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The Daily Tar Heel

Water crisis causes inconveniences for students

Following high fluoride levels and a water main break in the city’s water supply, the University had to close campus and cancel all events for the weekend. They strongly encouraged all students who were able to leave campus to do so on Friday.

Youssef Zarrouk, outreach co-chairperson of the UNC Muslim Students Association, said the water crisis caused UNC MSA’s “Our America” Unity rally against President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban on Friday to be cancelled, which over 1,000 people from the Triangle area were expected to attend. 

The crisis also impacted the Muslim students’ daily prayer rituals, Zarrouk said.

“Muslims are required to pray five times a day and in order to conduct prayer we need to be in a state of cleanliness, meaning we have to wash our hands and face,” Zarrouk said. “With the 'no use' warning on the water, we had to resort to another method.”

The other method was tapping the ground twice, rubbing their hands together and rubbing them across their face, he said.

The University responded to the water shortage by providing free bottled water to students and placing porta-potties outside of residence halls, but some students were still affected — and felt inconvenienced.

“I wasn’t planning on going home,” sophomore Mariah Harrelson said. “But when I realized there would only be two Porta-Johns for all of Morrison, I thought it might be nice to go home to Charlotte.” 

Many out-of-state students, however, could not go home.

“I’m from Kansas, so going home wasn’t really an option,” first-year Hanna Watson said. “It took me like five water bottles to get ready Saturday morning.” 

In addition to providing these resources, the University also kept Campus Health Services open for acute care only on Friday until 5 p.m. and then starting again at 8 a.m. Saturday, in case the water crisis caused health issues for those students still on campus. 

Fortunately, there were no illness or injuries caused by the water shortage, said Ken Pittman, interim executive director of Campus Health Services.  

“We saw 21 patients over the weekend,” Pittman said. “But no patients came in to receive care as a direct result of contamination or dehydration.”

Pittman said he thought the University’s response to the crisis was very good in providing for the students’ needs over the weekend.

“The University’s response with providing bottled water definitely helped our students,” Pittman said. “Most students who came in were just being extra cautious about their hydration.”

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