By Dorothy Tucker

CHICAGO (CBS) — City crews are scrambling as a record number of people are without water because of frozen pipes.

And, as CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, relief for those suffering seems like a long way off.

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Some residents have taken to shoveling snow into buckets and then boiling it as their only water source.

“It’s been off since last Friday,” said Louis Harbison.

That’s some 168 hours without one of life’s basic necessities.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Pauline Harbison. “Putting snow in a pot and you know melting it for water and pouring it over for the stool to flush. You can’t take a bath. You can’t take a shower.”

The faucets are dry because the city-owned pipes leading to the home are frozen.

The Chicago Water Department is responsible for fixing them, but the Harbisons are among the nearly 300 Chicago families still waiting for a crew.

For Sheila Mitchell and her daughter, Kesha, it’s been 10 days of suffering.

The water they use to flush the toilet comes from a neighbor.

“It’s like a nightmare that I’m hoping I’ll wake up and it’ll be over,” Mitchell said. “Once I flush the toilet. I pour the water into here and this is how I wash my hands.

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They’ve given up on cooking.

“In the kitchen basically the only thing we do is fix a sandwich,” she said.

Both families say they’ve made repeated calls to the city and have been told to be patient.

For the Harbisons, patience will last as long as the snow.

And when the snow melts?

“We’re messed up,” Louis Harbison said. “We got to leave here and go to a motel or someplace.”

So the real question is when can these homeowners expect to get water?

The answer is not good.

City officials don’t have a timetable.

They say they have extra crews working around the clock, and they’re working as quickly as they can.

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And if you don’t want to join the waterless crowd, officials say, you have to leave your faucet on and allow it to drip around the clock. That keeps the pressure up and the water running.

Dorothy Tucker