The highest turbidity levels in the region’s water supply caused the Vancouver Regional District to issue an unprecedented boil-water advisory that affected two million people yesterday.
It has been scaled back to a few cities within the region today, but there are still one million people without clean water.
When Momma J called me at work yesterday to ask me to grab some bottled water I didn’t take her seriously at first. A few minutes of thinking about human nature and remembering The Road spurred me to get out of my desk and head to the nearest supermarket. Luckily there was plenty of water on the shelf when I arrived, and I was able to grab eight one-litre bottles before full panic set in.
Six hours later, the shelves of most of the supermarkets in the city had been cleared out. Momma J, fearing we didn’t have enough water, headed up to the local Safeway at 6:15 p.m. to find the shelves empty of water and an hour line up for filtered water. This morning it was a four-hour line up at 10 a.m.
According to local health authorities water boiled for a minute is fine. I tried this last night and the water remained murky and brown. Needless to say, I was relieved that we were able to pick up 14 litres of water yesterday between the two of us to ensure the little guy would have plenty of supply for the next few days.
Even though I know everything is going to be fine – it rains all the time here and if I’m truly desperate I can catch rainwater on my balcony – I realized how fragile city life is. Before any of this happened I would have never considered stocking up for an emergency. Now with a baby, it’s a different story.
Realizing it is a free-for-all when this kind of stuff happens made me reconsider things. When I listened to the morning news casts, I didn’t hear one story of people helping each other out, or stores limiting water sales to ensure a lot of people were well supplied. From what I could tell, you were out of luck if you didn’t get to the store on time.
I’d hate to see what happened here if there was an earthquake that wiped out power, water and gas. From watching what happened yesterday and today, I know it’s not going to pretty if a natural disaster hits the city. I know this is a dark view of humanity, but I feel it is a real one, so I’m going to prep the house in the next week or so.