Pipes don’t hold up to cold

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Tues­day seemed to get off to a calm start, de­spite the sin­gle-digit temps, but the havoc of pipes bro­ken as a re­sult of freez­ing wa­ter be­came ap­par­ent af­ter noon when res­i­dents and busi­nesses be­gan re­port­ing dam­age and flood­ing.

The dam­age hit a wide swath of build­ings, in­clud­ing dozens of homes, the Cov­ing­ton home­less shel­ter, three fire sta­tions and a church, restau­rant, nurs­ing home and plas­tic man­u­fac­turer, and calls were still com­ing as of late

Tues­day evening.

Of­fi­cials ex­pected a steady stream through the night and much of Wed­nes­day as the full scope of dam­age won’t be known un­til all pipes have thawed and wa­ter starts flow­ing freely again.

The Gar­den of Geth­se­mane Home­less Shel­ter suf­fered some of the most sig­nif­i­cant is­sues re­ported, as about 2 inches of wa­ter leaked into the women’s build­ing, ac­cord­ing to Capt. Tony Smith. Fire­fight­ers helped get wa­ter out, and res­i­dents were able to be moved back into the build­ing, Smith said late Tues­day. Salem United Methodist Church had a ma­jor break in its sprin­kler sys­tem, dam­ag­ing the gym and main en­trance area, said Newton County Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien. Cov­ing­ton News Face­book read­ers also posted that New Life Praise Center on Stone Moun­tain Street in Cov­ing­ton and Mans­field Bap­tist Church ex­pe­ri­enced pipe dam­age.

Two county fire sta­tions also had sprin­kler sys­tem breaks, and a third had a wa­ter line break, O’Brien said, es­ti­mat­ing the dam­age to be around $1,500-$2,000 per sta­tion.

Dou­ble DIPS restau­rant in Ox­ford was tem­po­rar­ily closed be­cause of bro­ken pipes, ac­cord­ing to its Face­book page.

Ash­ton Hill Golf Club is also likely to be closed for a few days be­cause of bro­ken pipes, Smith said, while Pac­tiv, a plas­tic man­u­fac­turer, had sprin­kler-sys­tem dam­age, and the River­side Health Care Center also had some mi­nor leaks, Smith said.

Newton Med­i­cal Center also re­ported two bro­ken pipes, but said the in­ci­dences were small.

Dozens of homes were af- fected all over the county, with some own­ers com­ing home to find wa­ter run­ning out of their houses, O’Brien said.

Fire­fight­ers and wa­ter of­fi­cials were help­ing home­own­ers by shut­ting off wa­ter to the homes at their wa­ter me­ters to min­i­mize wa­ter dam­age.

Mike Hop­kins, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Newton County Wa­ter and Sewerage Au­thor­ity, said he ex­pected calls to in­crease tomorrow once all the bro­ken pipes be­come ev­i­dent as the frozen wa­ter liq­ue­fies.

Hop­kins ad­vised res­i­dents to be on the look­out for leaks and cut the wa­ter off at the me­ter if pos­si­ble. If the wa­ter can’t be cut off, Hop­kins said res­i­dents should call their wa­ter util­ity, whether the au­thor­ity or a city, for help. A plumber should be called to make any re­pairs.

Rock­dale County was also hit hard.

Rock­dale Fire and Res­cue Chief Dan Mor­gan ex­plained that as the sun warmed roof and at­tic spa­ces to above freez­ing, it thawed out frozen pipes in those spa­ces, which were likely to be sprin­kler pipes.

“We ex­pect that to con­tinue as tem­per­a­tures fluc­tu­ate,” Mor­gan said Tues­day.

Lower ar­eas that were not hit by the sun­light, such as base­ments, may still have burst pipes that are frozen.

Some of the flooded lo­ca­tions in­clude at least five build­ings in the Keswick Vil­lage Apart­ments, the Kids R Kids day care on Ga. High­way 20, Peachtree Academy near Salem Road, Barks­dale Boys and Girls Club, and the Rock­dale Fire and Res­cue’s own head­quar­ters at Sta­tion No. 7 on Rock­bridge Road.

The Barks­dale Boys and Girls Club is now closed un­til fur­ther no­tice, said Teen Center Di­rec­tor Carol Wyre, who fielded calls from wor­ried par­ents won- der­ing what they were go­ing to do with their kids. The club serves about 300 chil­dren and teens in its daily ed­u­ca­tional and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar pro­grams.

Con­trac­tor Matt Fancher, who owns the XSI Dis­as­ter Ser­vices com­pany, said he brought in in­dus­trial heaters for his own equip­ment and of­fice last night be­cause he couldn’t af­ford pipes burst­ing in his busi­ness.

He ex­plained that lo­cal build­ing codes are not de­signed with sin­gle- digit tem­per­a­tures in mind since it rarely gets that cold in Ge­or­gia.

Chief Mor­gan said many of the calls that Fire and Res­cue was re­ceiv­ing were for places that had been va­cant or un­oc­cu­pied for a time, or next to a va­cant place, and heat had been turned down.

Rock­dale News Ed­i­tor Michelle Kim con­trib­uted all of the Rock­dale County-re­lated con­tent for this story.

Dar­rell Everidge/The Cov­ing­ton News

Tem­per­a­tures reached record lows on Tues­day, with schools closed, and wind chills in the neg­a­tives.

Dar­rell Everidge/The Cov­ing­ton News

Not too many peo­ple en­joyed the out­doors Tues­day, leav­ing the wa­ter at Turner Lake Park mostly un­desturbed for ice to form on its sur­face.

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