ASHLAND, Ky. (WYMT/WSAZ) - 1-31-14 Update:
Drivers lined up waiting to pull into the Summit-Ironville Volunteer Fire Department Thursday evening.
Summit resident Melissa Strader says it’s been a strain not being able to use tap water for several days.
"I just had my sister-in-law from West Virginia go through this,” Strader said. “Now we know what it's like."
That was one of three water distribution sites for residents outside of Ashland who are affected by the water outage that’s affected thousands in Boyd County, which led to a local state of emergency.
The Cannonsburg Volunteer Fire Department and the senior center next to the Boyd County Courthouse in Catlettsburg are also set up as distribution sites.
This week the cold temperatures coupled with a series of water line breaks has wreaked havoc on the county's water system.
"It's been a ripple effect because a couple places buy their water from Ashland, so they've had to shut off commercially to preserve the water we do have," Amber Holley, Deputy Director of Boyd County Emergency Management, said.
Families are limited to three gallons a day and are required to show identification at the distribution sites to confirm they’re residents of the county.
The distribution sites will reopen from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.
Disabled people unable to get out can call Boyd County Emergency Management and have water brought to their homes. Their number is 606-739-0127.
Holley says there is no timetable for when the water situation will return to normal.
A long line of cars pulled into Ashland's Central Park on Wednesday as thousands of residents headed out in search of water.
"You're so used to having water on a everyday basis, you never think about not having it," Ashland resident Will McFann said. "Then when it's taken away from you, it's like a big reality check."
McFann and his family are stocking up on bottled water after having a bit of bad luck.
"Our water got turned back on last night, thank God," McFann said, "but it froze up as soon as it came back on."
Ashland city officials had hoped to have water service restored to the entire area by Wednesday. However, they say several setbacks have increased the estimated number of customers without water to about 7,000.
"There's a lot of people that are out of water out in the county and higher areas," Ashland Engineering and Utilities Director Ryan Eastwood said. "It's extremely frustrating. I can't imagine being without water for that long. I just wake up in the middle of the night trying to find alternate solutions."
It's that outside-the-box thinking that led officials to call for help from the fire department.
"I have engineering techs with our water distribution operators to find valves and fire hydrants that we're going to hook up a fire pumper truck from one fire hydrant to another, just to get pressure to the pump station that will pump up the hill," Eastwood said.
However, as of Wednesday evening, crews say that plan failed because they could not get enough pressure back to the pumping station, which would have helped refill the city's water tanks.
Crews have now shut off water supplies to the city's wholesale districts like Flatwoods and Cannonsburg, which receive their water from Ashland. It's now a race against time because those towns do not produce their own water. Officials say that means those towns only have whatever is left in their tanks and could possibly run out of water.
The entire Ashland area is still under a boil water advisory. Officials say that will likely be kept in place for at least the next few days. They also say if the water issues continue, they will likely hand out bottled water once again Thursday.
A major water main break has left about 5,000 people without water in Ashland, Catlettsburg, Westwood and parts of Summit, Ky., according to a news release from the city of Ashland.
The break happened Monday night in the 2500 block of Carter Avenue in Ashland, Boyd County 911 dispatchers said.
It could be several hours before before service is restored. Crews worked late Monday night and are expected back about 7 a.m. Tuesday to resume work.
According to the city of Ashland news release, system tanks have been depleted -- causing system-wide outages.
Drivers are urged to avoid the area of Carter Avenue and 25th Street, if possible, because of ice-covered roads from the leak and extreme cold.
The following are closed as a result:
Home Federal Bank along Carter Avenue
The Boyd County Courthouse
Ashland-Boyd County Health Department
Those who do have water in the affected areas are advised to boil any water used for cooking, drinking or watering pets.
Officials say anyone with no water or low pressure may bring containers to the water plant to fill starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.