Arctic weather brought new challenges to much of the United States on Saturday, especially for people unaccustomed to such cold in places like Memphis, Tennessee, where residents were urged to boil water and many were without it after the storm. city pipes. No higher temperatures are forecast for the rest of the weekend.
The bitter cold followed a week of storms that caused at least 67 deaths in the United States, most of them from hypothermia or traffic accidents.
Patrice Bates Thompson, owner of Four Way Grill in Memphis, said water problems forced him to close his soul food restaurant for days.
“This is our livelihood and this is what drives my family financially,” Thompson told Fox-13 Memphis. “We rely on business, and we stay at home.”
So many pipes broke in Memphis that drinking water pressure dropped throughout the city. Concerned about possible contamination, public utility Memphis Light, Gas & Water on Saturday urged its more than 400,000 customers to boil water for drinking or brushing their teeth, or to use bottled water. , as crews worked around the clock to fix the leaks. .
“Our water production and treatment are performing well,” the utility said in an email. “We cannot provide restoration estimates until all leaks are identified.”
The utility said more than 100 employees volunteered Saturday to identify leaks, and residents were asked to report leaks on the road, in homes and in unoccupied buildings.
With no water running since Thursday morning, Pamela Wells met with a worker Saturday who asked if they had a leak.
“My husband said, ‘How can we have a leak if we don’t have water?'” she said.
They were filling a bathtub with water for the toilet when they noticed that the pressure had dropped, Wells explained. For everything else they used a reduced amount of bottled water, until their road became passable on Saturday and friends brought them fresh supplies.
“It’s a struggle,” he said, recalling how they ran out of water in 10 days in December 2022. “You don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
Meanwhile, the Memphis City Council on Saturday opened seven stations to distribute bottled water, one for each district. Two others work at fire stations. One of them had 300 cars lined up when it opened Saturday, Shelby County Emergency Management Director Brenda Jones said in a phone interview.
“There are people without water, people with low water pressure, and there is a boil water advisory,” he said.
From Montana to central Florida, most of the country is under a severe cold warning. The most affected area is the north center. Wind chills made it feel like -26 degrees Celsius (-16 degrees Fahrenheit) in Iowa City on Saturday, and overnight wind chills hovered near zero in Oklahoma City, where David Overholser sought shelter at the nonprofit Homeless. Alliance.
”At 63 years old and from Florida, I don’t like the cold. “I can’t stand it,” Overholser told The Oklahoman. “It’s really hard and painful and I’m, you know, trying to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time … it’s definitely scary.”
Wind chills reached minus 28° Celsius (minus 20° Fahrenheit) early Saturday in Vermont, where Stowe Mountain Resort is recommending skiers “prepare everything you need to stay safely on the mountain, take frequent breaks to keep warm indoors and monitor others for signs of frostbite.”
The snow gradually eased in the Northeast after blanketing a large area including Washington and New York City. In New York, aid groups on Saturday distributed food and clothing to immigrants, who shielded themselves from freezing temperatures with thick coats and fur hats.
More snow is expected in West Virginia, where the weather service is predicting up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of additional snow Saturday, with wind gusts of 40 mph (64 km/h), causing wind chills. down to -29 degrees Celsius (-20 degrees Fahrenheit).
Heavy lake-effect snow hit northwest Indiana from Friday into Saturday, creating near-whiteout conditions near Lake Michigan and complicating vehicular traffic on the busy highway corridor in and out of the Chicago.
“We’re kind of taking a chance, rolling the dice,” Frank Finney told WBBM-TV. Finney and his family were traveling on Interstate 94 through Michigan City to La Porte, Indiana.
There were 26 deaths in Tennessee alone, including a 25-year-old man who was found dead on the floor of a mobile home in Lewisburg after a heater fell and went missing, said Bob Johnson, a Tennessee deputy sheriff. . Marshall County.
“There’s ice on the walls,” Johnson said.