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Philly residents rush to buy bottled water following advisory

Bottled water flies off shelves at Philly grocery stores after tap water advisory
Bottled water flies off shelves at Philly grocery stores after tap water advisory 01:33

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- As soon as the city of Philadelphia alerted residents to not drink tap water after a chemical spill in Bucks County, the rush was on to buy water.

RELATED READING: Philadelphia tap water worries: Here's what we know

Sunday afternoons at Walmart are usually pretty busy, but customers described the store as a madhouse. 

All afternoon customers dropped by Walmart to pick up some water. The shelves for bottled water at Walmart in South Philly are bare after a public safety alert saying to not drink tap water in Philly popped up on phones.


"Everybody's scared," said Bernard, who declined to give his last name. "Everybody's scared. They had the thing come on your phone, so everybody's scared. It was a mad rush on here for the last couple of hours." 

Bernard stocked up on enough water for his family and a neighbor. 

But other customers left disappointed when they found out the store ran out of water.

"People coming out there are mad right now because there's no water," Bernard said "They're coming out really upset." 

Walmart eventually re-stocked, but customers had to stand in a long line that stretched across the store. 

Employees limited the water to two cases per customer, and other stores are also limiting water bottles until more supplies arrive.  There was also a line at the water refill station, where customers filled up water for their coolers. 

Philadelphia officials hold press conference regarding chemical spill 37:15

"I'm from Venezuela, where we don't have things," Alfredo Lucas said. "So I'm actually pretty used to rationing. It feels like back home." 

It's not just Walmart that was affected.

We also spotted bare shelves at the Target on Mifflin Street and Acme on Snyder Avenue Sunday night.

Water worries send Philadelphian residents in a frenzy for bottled water 02:28

"We're trying to buy some water," Canaan Colwick, of Fishtown, said. "This is the third place we looked at tonight. not anything available. just making the rounds."

Annelise Foglio also went to three places to get water. 

No luck. She's trying to get water before Monday morning in response to this email from her school.

"They're just closing down the water fountains, like water systems, so students are required to bring their own water to school," Foglio said of Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School. 

The water shortage is leading to frustration. 

Quamir Dublin delivers groceries with Uber Eats. 

"Somebody ordered 12 one-gallon bottles of Deer Park, and I had to tell him, I couldn't give it to him. Because literally, there was no water period," Dublin said. 

The Target on Mifflin Street doesn't want customers to waste their time and end up disappointed, so they put a sign right near the entrance saying "sold out of water.'" 

"One of my buddies actually saw people fighting to purchase water in Costco, and ended up seeing them reselling it in the parking lot at a markup," Colwick said. "It was pretty wild." 

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