Suburban police,firefighters lead bottled water collection for Flint
Residents from the suburbs and beyond are coming together to help those affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Cases upon cases of bottled water are stacking up at seven fire departments serving as regional drop-off points for the effort spurred by Buffalo Grove police. The drive for the safe drinking water aims to assist Flint police and firefighters who are busy helping residents in their community.
Fire departments are receiving the water in Arlington Heights, Grayslake, Round Lake, Schiller Park, Lake Zurich, North Riverside and Utica. Bottled-water donations also will be accepted around the clock through 6 p.m. Friday, at Buffalo Grove police headquarters, 46 Raupp Blvd.
Buffalo Grove Deputy Police Chief Roy Bethge expects at least 2,000 cases of bottled water to arrive at the department for shipment to Flint. The original plan was for off-duty police to use a truck to bring the water to Michigan, but the response has been so great that officials now hope someone will volunteer a semitrailer truck for the delivery, he said.
Grayslake Fire Chief John Christian said it's been almost a nonstop stream of visitors bringing cases of bottled water to the department's downtown headquarters since the effort began Monday.
Fire Lt. David Torkilsen, who helped organize the collection, said he expects to make a final water delivery to Buffalo Grove late Friday morning.
"I think it's great that the Buffalo Grove Police Department looked at the fact that there's a lot of people, the Red Cross and a lot of donations, going to the community over there to help them out, but there's no one giving to the first responders over there," he said.
The Arlington Heights Fire Department collected 100 cases of water and dropped them off to Buffalo Grove, firefighter Andrew Larson said.
Flint has been contending with the crisis since elevated levels of lead were discovered in its water supply last year. Donations of safe drinking water are going to the city from across the country.
Torkilsen said he projects at least 500 cases of water will be brought to the downtown Grayslake firehouse through Friday morning. Local charities will receive the water if it turns out Buffalo Grove cannot accept all the water collected in Grayslake.
In another effort, the Lake County Housing Authority is collecting bottled water and money to purchase it for residents of the Flint Housing Commission.
"We believe in serving our community, and at a time like this, it's so important to help our neighbors," said David Northern, executive director/chief executive officer of the Lake County Housing Authority.
Northern said the housing authority will accept cases of bottled water and checks through Thursday, Feb. 4. The authority is at 33928 N. Route 45, just outside Grayslake. Donations will be taken from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday. Drop-offs of water and checks will be accepted from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Feb. 3, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4.
Checks should be made out to Lake County Housing Authority with the notation "Flint Water" in the memo line, Northern said.
• Daily Herald staff writer Melissa Silverberg contributed to this report.