Cellphones screamed an alarm Sunday afternoon telling local residents there was a water contamination problem in Philadelphia. And although city authorities walked back the warning later that day, it did not prevent hordes of frantic shoppers from heading to stores to stock up on bottled water.

With many Philadelphia shops quickly emptied of bottled water, Philadelphia and suburban residents alike are converging on local Delaware Valley stores.

Residents have been posting on Facebook that various stores in the area are out of bottled water.

Hallie Levant said on Elkins Park Happenings that the Acme in Jenkintown was out of water when she went on Sunday.

“Costco was a nightmare today,” a Bensalem woman posted on Facebook. “I managed to get a few cases, but it was all out by the time I checked out. People were running around like maniacs. I literally felt like this was COVID all over again.”

Rich Case, who manages the Costco in Montgomeryville, said on Monday that “a lot of people came out for water. They wiped us out in our first hour.”

Case said he did not know whether the surge of customers came from Philadelphia or the suburbs. But the manager told the Delaware Valley Journal that another truckload of bottled water would arrive soon.

Dana Ward, a spokesperson for Acme, told DVJournal: “ACME Markets is aware of the continued Water Warning in Philadelphia. All of our stores throughout the region, including our 17 locations within the City of Philadelphia, have water available for purchase for our customers.

“We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will continue to deliver additional water to our stores as needed.”

On the Berwyn Neighbors Facebook page, residents reassured each other that their water does not come from the Delaware River, where the stream where the Bristol chemical spill happened flows.

“I would worry more about the lawn chemicals people use that run off into the tributaries to our reservoir,” resident Kate McAllister wrote.

Jeff Brown, the Philadelphia mayoral candidate who owns some area ShopRite stores, said on Twitter: “My wife Sandy has emergency trailer load quantities of bottled water to all our Philly ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer locations.

“Don’t panic, we will do whatever is necessary to make sure all of Philly has clean drinking water,” he wrote.

The Philadelphia Water Department said on its website officials are confident that tap water from the Baxter Drinking Water Treatment Plant will remain safe to drink and use at least through 11:59 p.m. Monday. That assurance was due to the treatment and continuous testing of water that is currently available to residents. The department also assured the public it would continue testing the water.


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