We are going through this right now. There is not going to be any relief for a couple months.
One does not know when the pipes will freeze. We went though a number of cold winters here in northern Idaho with no problem. This past fall we have rainfalls that were far above normal. This appears to have driven the frost deeper than usual. I borrowed a locator from my former employer to locate the water line. I haven't lost my touch. It is more difficult to locate a metal pipe that is in contact with the ground and I was using an older surplus unit. The locator showed that the pipe was less than 2 feet deep in places. It is nearly 200 feet from the house to the meter. No contractor is going to attempt to dig through frost. I do not blame them. The line is frozen and fortunately the meter is not moving. After the thaw we will likely find a break in the line. Oh. About 10 neighbors have also been without water. The option of an above ground water line with heat tape and insulation is prohibitively expensive and likely to fail too.
Our water stopped during the day when water is flowing through the pipes nearly constantly. I found the water had stopped in the evening. One would expect the waterline to freeze when not in use for an extended period like at night. Keeping a faucet running has limited effectiveness.
Now, how we are coping first hand. We have stored water for drinking for the short term. Long term water preparations are always available. We can get water from neighbors. We spread the begging around so there is not a burden on any one neighbor. Neighbors have allowed use of the shower too. When the disaster is over a larger area this option will be unavailable.
We have 3 categories of water use:
1. Snow. I am melting snow for toilet use. This takes far longer to process than you expect. The wood stove is constantly hot to speed the melting but it still takes nearly all day to get the water for toilet use. I have found that just dumping water in the bowl is not as effective as putting the water in the tank and making a normal flush. Keep your older toilets.
2. Water of unknown quality. This is water gotten from neighbor and put into containers of some questionable quality. This water is fine for washing dishes as it is sanitized by boiling and soap use. This water is fine for baths. My bath is in three steps. Shave with a smaller quantity of water. Wash hair over the tub. Body bath with 4 or 5 gallons with me in the tube for rinsing. This can all be done with 5 or 6 gallons of water total.
3. Drinking water. Short term, we got water from the Dollar store. At a dollar per gallon, it is a great value. We reuse these and other containers of known quality for drinking and cooking.
As it is around or below freezing, I can not use my 175 gallon tote for water storage. I do not want to use my Berky water filter unless I know the problem will be very long term.
This has been a good test for when the s*** hits the fan.
You will find it it is nearly a full time job just to get enough water for a family. Plastic is great but it does fail. a number of my buckets have cracked with age. Have plenty of buckets on hand and keep them out of the sunlight.
This should help give ideas for those who are or considering preparations for the time of need.