Toledo Water Crisis

August 04, 2014
Captain Tawny Cowen-Zanders | | (845) 536-3985

In the early morning hours of August 2nd, the Metro Toledo area, encompassing over 500,000 people, learned the unimaginable – their water supply had been compromised due to unacceptable levels of a toxin produced from harmful blue-green algae known as microcystis.  Residents were ordered not to drink, brush their teeth, wash dishes, or bathe in the water.  Once notified of the water crisis facing the community, The Salvation Army mobilized its forces. 

“We knew that in order to face this crisis head on, we had to divide and conquer,” shared Captain Kevin Zanders, Area Coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Northwest Ohio Area Services.  “I gathered all of the water bottles in our inventory and began to check on those who are known to The Salvation Army as being housebound or transportation limited.” 
In the meantime, Captain Tawny Cowen-Zanders, Associate Area Coordinator, drove 90 minutes south in bumper-to-bumper traffic to find water, as the water crisis and the ensuing panic had rendered all local and surrounding store shelves temporarily bare of water.  After purchasing the water, she realized that the weight of the load exceeded her vehicle limitations.  Two good Samaritans, Patrick and Michael, saw her struggle and offered to follow her back to Toledo with the remaining water.  They wanted no reimbursement.  They said that the good feeling they got from doing the right thing was reward enough.   
“While Patrick and Michael did not think their good deed was extraordinary,” shared Captain Tawny, “I can assure you it was.  Without these kind gentlemen’s assistance, the water our community so desperately needed would not have made it back.  They are true examples of ‘doing the most good for the most people in the most need’.”
Since the water crisis facing the community began, The Salvation Army has served over 2,102 individuals, including 140 housebound and transportation limited households, distributed 7,450 water bottles, and served 457 meals and 420 snacks at three water distribution sites located throughout the city.

“We are truly grateful to the 27 volunteers who have logged in a total of 390 hours of service to our community,” expressed Captain Kevin.  “Without their uncommon acts of compassion, many of the most vulnerable in our community - children, elderly, housebound, sick – would have faced an unthinkable calamity. We are grateful to them and our donors who give us the privilege of being their hands to the community.”
The Salvation Army remains committed to serving the community, both during this crisis and throughout the year.  If you or anyone you know are in need, please contact The Salvation Army at    (419) 241-1138.


About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index ( The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

Our Mission

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
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