(WASHINGTON) — A drive through Prince George’s County on the southeast side of the Washington, D.C. metro area found residents scrambling on Tuesday to stockpile water in scorching triple-digit heat. About 200,000 residents in the area, which includes Joint Base Andrews, will be without running water for up to five days while workers complete an emergency replacement of a water main there.
“Luckily the electricity is on. But water — you cannot do without water. So that was shock and awe!” Daphne Burnett of Ft. Washington, Md., told ABC News from the driveway of her single-level home. “I cannot fathom what five days will be like without water. So I’m filing this bucket for the bathroom. I’m filing it up!”
Burnett’s garden hose had almost fully filled a 40-gallon recycling bin to the brim.
She’s not alone. Dozens of residents were filling trash cans, bath tubs, coolers, and children’s swimming pools to store water for an outage that could last five days or more. They planned to use small buckets to fill toilet tanks to keep things moving; others planned to boil the water to take sponge baths.
“My toilets are one gallon — I’m hoping that this will last a little while,” Burnett said.
Several people told ABC News that they took the day off of work for a frantic visit to Costco to buy packs of bottled water. Others were doing last-minute loads of laundry hoping their clean clothes will last at least 5 days, maybe longer. A few people were giving their plants and lawns one last drink.
Stephen Joyce, who went door-to-door notifying neighbors of the water shutdown, said neighbors have been caught off guard.
“At least 70 percent of people I checked with had no idea this was happening,” he said. “When we went to Costco to fill up with water they’ve got two emergency semi-trucks coming in. They’re running out of water as fast as people are pulling it off the shelves.”
Joyce and his wife, Rosie, have a new rule in their house: “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down,” he said of his plan to conserve water.
Tomminetta Stamp, an unemployed mother of three, has told her children they cannot use the enticing inflatable swimming pool sitting under the car park.
“Not today, won’t be for swimming!” she said. “We’ll have to make the best of it and use it to flush toilets. You know with little kids you can’t just let it sit there.”
On the other side of the neighborhood, retiree Eric Marrow, was inside his upstairs bathroom filling a tub — and hoping the plug would hold the water in for a few days.
“Need to keep the water and the only place to keep water is in the tub and sink,” he said. This is, “very strange, very strange, especially with the heat and everything” to be doing this.
But least they have air conditioning, right?
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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