For more than three hours Tuesday morning, emergency responders in Marietta worked on a busted water main off Powder Springs Street as water began pouring into the southbound lane around a blind curve. After about an hour, an inch of ice had accumulated, said Marietta Police Officer David Baldwin.
“It got bad out there,” Baldwin said.
A snow plow was used to scrape the road clean of the ice before it reopened around 11 a.m., Baldwin said.
“They sanded the heck out of it,” he said.
Baldwin said the busted pipe led to an abandoned building of the nearby Wynhaven Apartment complex.
San Diego-based Black Orchid Equity recently bought the complex out of foreclosure and plans to tear it down.
From late evening Monday to the midnight hours, Marietta Police were patrolling the highways for stranded motorists, Baldwin said, especially vehicles with broken-down engines, which would force drivers out into the cold.
Lt. Dan Dupree with Cobb Fire said the county department has not received as many calls as he expected, mainly because there was not a large amount of precipitation knocking down trees.
Dupree said there were also no large power outages or icy conditions on the roads.
Still, Dupree said there was a “huge surge” in calls from businesses and homes for busted pipes, including sprinkler systems. At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday Cobb Fire was responding to 10 active calls for busted water pipes.
Each call took about 30 minutes to an hour for Cobb Fire to isolate the leak and turn the water off, most often at the meter, Dupree said.
Plumbers to the rescue
To prepare for the freeze, Tom Gregory with Kennesaw-based Superior Plumbing said he brought in the company’s management team on Sunday to prepare.
Gregory said this week’s unusual event is emerging as a big crisis.
Superior Plumbing logged more than 700 calls for the metro Atlanta area in the first eight hours of business Tuesday.
In a normal week, the company responds to 500 service calls, Gregory said.
By Tuesday afternoon, Gregory said the company was just taking “names and numbers.”
“Our first priority is to help people that might be experiencing property damage,” Gregory said.
Fortunately, the freezing temperatures were not causing treacherous driving conditions, so Superior plumbers were able to work into the evening, Gregory said.
Gregory said he anticipates even more problems today as the county thaws out.
Mike Bryan, the general manager of Marietta-based Sundial Plumbing, said the local company has not had this many calls about frozen pipes in years.
“It is one call after another,” Bryan said.
Bryan said the calls began with residents concerned about not having water due to frozen pipes.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sundial Plumbing was able to get to each call about busted pipes.
Bryan said it takes about one to three hours to find the busted pipes and do repairs.
The price can be higher for harder to reach areas, and the minimum cost for a visit by Sundial is between $198 and $250, Bryan said.
Although there is little a person can do to prevent a pipe bust, Bryan said, residents can place a heating device near frozen pipes to help them thaw.
“The only thing you can do is wait it out,” Bryan said. “There is no miracle for it, that’s for sure.”