TODAY   |  January 12, 2014

Water crisis, hardships continue for W. Virginia

“It's not fun trying to bathe the baby out of a dishpan,” said one mother, who is improvising solutions with her family due to a chemical leak that has affected thousands of residents, leaving them without access to clean water. NBC’s Luke Russert reports.

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>>> much more frustrating for residents in charleston, west virginia and the surrounding areas today. hundreds of thousands of them are now in their fourth day without tap water because of a chemical spill . officials say it could be days before clean water is flowing again. luke russert is in charleston with the latest on the story. luke, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, lester. since thursday nearly 800 calls to the west virginia poison control center have been caused by the leak. this as it stretches into the new workweek.

>> reporter: four days later hundreds of thousands of west virginians have no access to safe tap water . it remains unclear when life will return to normal.

>> we have employees that have worked the system, extremely knowledgeable of the system are out collecting samples and looking at flushing activities at this time. but we're talking days.

>> reporter: the chemical leak is causing great hardships. at hospitals elective surgeries have been canceled and water is being brought in for any lifesaving procedures. for moms with infants, it means getting by however you can.

>> you do what you got to do when you've got a 9-month-old baby at the house.

>> reporter: ordinary tasks like bathing take on a new degree of difficulty.

>> it's not fun trying to bathe the baby out of a dish pan.

>> reporter: also feeling the pinch, the local economy. the leak has closed many businesses since thursday which means missed shifts and lost revenue.

>> 96% of our xhi in west virginia is made up of small businesses . and they're hurting.

>> reporter: one of the few restaurants open, the al delph yeah sports bar sat half empty on what would be a busy day of play-off football.

>> this place is usually bustling with a lot of people, a lot of food going out. not today. our employees want to work.

>> reporter: patrons found distraction on a limited menu of drinks and chips.

>> we're mountaineers.

>> reporter: a lot of questions have arisen of how safe the storage facility was where the chemical leaked from. tomorrow a team will arrive from washington to determine just how safe that tank was and what can be done to prevent further accidents in the future. lester?

>> luke, thanks for the update.