(WASHINGTON) — More than 150,000 residents outside of Washington, D.C., have been told to stockpile water for as long as five days during the hottest week of the year as crews repair a failing water main.
The 54-inch water main that supplies a section of Prince George’s County in Maryland was taken offline late Tuesday night because wires inside the water main are starting to break down and are in desperate need of repairs. Water in the system should last about 14 hours but County Executive Rushern Baker said people should prepare for taps to run dry later Wednesday.
“When everybody wakes up and takes a shower, we’re going to run out of water pretty fast…” he said.
In addition to three dozen cooling centers, county officials said they will open at least two “reception centers” on Wednesday and deploy tanker trucks to provide water.
Amid a heat wave, residents are left finding creative ways to conserve what little water they have acquired by filing recycling cans, portable pools and anything else that can carry water safely.
Resident Tominetta Stamp spent Tuesday filling her recycling bins with a garden hose.
“We usually use this for swimming, however we going to have to use it for flushing our toilets,” Stamp said.
Residents were already feeling the effects of the damaged water main hours before it was shut down as water pressure dwindled.
“Ten minutes ago it was coming out more than this, and to be honest, it doesn’t smell very good,” Stamp said.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Spokesperson Lyn Riggins suggests families with children should especially stockpile bottled water.
“Have about two gallons on hand in your house, per person, to get you through,” Riggins suggested.
But bottled water is becoming scarce in Prince George’s County.
“A lot of stores are running out of water. I don’t know how long the water I got is going to last me,” Prince George’s County resident Keesha Seth said.
Nearly a quarter of the country is experiencing a heat wave and temperatures across the country are on average 10 degrees hotter than normal. It’s expected to hit 96 degrees Wednesday in Washington, D.C., but it will feel like 105 to 110 degrees with the humidity.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Phil Mattingly, Tom LoBianco and David Mark, CNN
Eugene Scott, CNN