Residents in Marmet, WV melting snow to bathe children, cook, cl - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Residents in Marmet, WV melting snow to bathe children, cook, clean

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Jacob Irwin pours water into a cup, takes a swig, then grins.

"I like it!" he yells.

Just twenty minutes ago, the water Jacob drank was in the form of snow, sitting on his back porch.

"Survival mode," said Laura Irwin, Jacob's mother. "That's basically what it is. When the water crisis happened, we went into survival mode and you do what you gotta do to survive."

Last month a chemical leak contaminated the drinking water of nearly 300,000 people. A chemical known as crude MCHM escaped from a container at Freedom Industries, a storage tank farm on the Elk River.

People like the Irwins say they still don't trust the water. They'd rather melt snow then drink the water from the tap.

"We're trying to make the best of the water situation because it's not safe to drink yet," Irwin said. "It's got to be cleaner in some aspect."

Several containers sit on the Irwin's back porch in Marmet. A heavy snowfall Thursday morning filled the buckets to their brims.

Irwin typically uses a pot to scoop up the flakes, then melts the snow on the stove. The family uses the water for bathing and cleaning. The routine started when Gov. Tomblin ordered a State of Emergency Jan. 9. Irwin also uses her basins to collect rainwater.

With four dogs, the Irwins go through at least five gallons of water every day. So after melting the snow, they store the water in more than two dozen gallon bottles.

Counties have periodically provided water at distribution centers in the affected regions. Officials have closed these sites when the temperatures drop below freezing.

The Irwin family says they mainly relied on these distribution sites for bottled water.

"We just started brainstorming to come up with anything we could to get water for our family," said Irwin's husband, Rob.

So how long until these people turn on the tap?

"Until I see proof that it's safe," Irwin said. "Because I don't trust them."

Many state leaders, including Gov. Tomblin, have been hesitant to call the water "safe" after a 'Do Not Use' order was lifted in nine counties. Jeff McIntyre, the president of West Virginia American Water, stated the water meets all standards set by state agencies during a congressional hearing Monday.

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