With temperatures dropping 15 to 25 degrees below average in vast areas of the US breaking century-old records, citizens and authorities are taking unusual measures to stay warm and to keep facilities running.

The water tower in an Evansdale suburb in Iowa froze when temperatures fell to minus 20 degrees (-29 Celsius). Mayor Doug Faas is considering sending in thermal suited divers to help break up the ice. The tower stores water for the town’s needs.

Faas told the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier that an ice cap which has formed inside the tower is making it impossible for the water to circulate in or out, and the city is exploring all options to find a solution.

The National Weather Service has issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings as temperatures plunged to a record low of 15 to 25 degrees for a vast area from South Texas to Canada, and from Montana through New England as a result of a high cold pressure front.

The weather has been blamed for nine deaths in the past week, according to AP.

With temperatures dipping as low as 23 degrees (-5 degrees), residents in upstate New York are shoring up with heating supplies in preparation for sub-zero temperatures anticipated for the rest of the week.

A call seeking more oil was posted on social media by Chris Wells, artistic director for The Secret City, who lives in Woodstock, New York.

Wells told RT he lives in an historic cottage built in 1902, and while he is not sure if the oil furnace that heats the house dates back that far “it very well may.”  

“We got a good delivery of oil a while ago but with this unexpected cold snap we used four times the amount of oil in the month than we usually use,” Wells told RT.

He said they tried at least 12 companies, and “everybody is tapped out.”

“One of the small companies we called said the bigger oil companies have been calling them to see if they have backlogs of oil. It is starting to appear as if there is a shortage,” said Wells. “I don’t know if this cold spell was anticipated.”

Authorities opened warming shelters in the South as temperatures dipped close to zero in Alabama and Georgia. In Aberdeen, South Dakota, the mercury dropped to a record-breaking minus 32.