SAUGUS In slightly more than an hour this morning, the town depleted 840 boxes of bottled water the state had sent to the North Shore town to help with the water quality concerns.
Police were driving down the line that stretched for more than a half hour at 10 a.m. today, announcing the shutdown over a bullhorn. A sign posted at the spot where water was being handed out has an angry face, replacing the smiling face that was installed when the hand out began around 8:30 a.m.
"Now you tell me,'' said a frustrated Charles Faletra, who was interviewed in the line on Hamilton street. "I've been in line for almost an hour.''
Asked if he could safely manage without the infusion of potable water, Faletra said, "I hope so.''
Town manager Andrew Bisignani said this morning the town expected two truckloads this morning, but only got one. He said if a second load arrives, the town will hand it out, alerting residents through the web and emails.
"We appreciative for what ever we've gotten,'' he said, adding he was not certain why the double shipment never arrived. The town handed out 5,040 gallons in six gallon boxes today.
Around 11 a.m. today, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said more water will be sent to Saugus or any other community who asks for it.
"It is something we are shuttling around as water runs out,'' said Peter Judge. "It's an ongoing process. It's not going to be a problem. We are going to have to make multiple runs during the day. We expected that.''
He added, "if there is a community that needs water, we will get them water.''
In neighboring Winthrop, Fire Chief Paul Flanagan said the town handed out 5,000 one-gallon jugs on Sunday with a two gallon per family limit. Today, the department has about 7,000 gallons worth of eight-ounce bottles on hand.
We had a line that was probably a quarter-mile [long] yesterday, said Flanagan, adding that the distribution point is behind Winthrop High School. Were now developing a line again, but we expect the rush to be after work hours.
Earlier today, Judge said new shipments of bottled water are heading this morning to some 20 communities handing out free water to their residents,
"Right now, every community that is looking for water is in the loop,'' Judge said. "This process will continue until this finally gets resolved.
He said trucks from the Massachusetts National Guard and the state Department of Transportation collected the water from distribution points around 7 a.m. and are currently en route to destination communities.
Judge also said that there is plenty of water in stores although residents from the affected communities may have to drive a town or two away from their usual shopping spots to find it.
"There is still plenty of water in stores in the area,'' he said. "There is water available in Eastern Massachusetts, in southern New Hampshire and northern Rhode Island.''
Finally, he said, if people follow the boil-water rules carefully, the water flowing out of their taps is perfectly safe to use.
"Boiling water is safe,'' he said. "Getting bottled water is not the only solution to this.''
Judge said the following communities have opted out of the water distributions: Canton, Chelsea, Lynn, Norwood, Revere, Somerville, Stoughton, Weston and Wilmington.
"The bottom line is we are getting water to the people who need it,'' Judge said. "Hopefully, this is going to get resolved soon.''
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