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Cold closes schools, breaks pipes, brings floods

By Femi Abebefe
Published On: Dec 09 2013 09:15:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 09 2013 11:18:23 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Femi Abebefe reports on how the frigid cold temperatures closed down schools and cracked open pipes across the High Desert.

BEND, Ore. -

The arctic blast that hit Central Oregon this weekend set records causing school closures, and pipes to burst across the High Desert.

Water and heating systems malfunctioned all weekend because of the cold, and with the temperature warming up, we aren't necessarily out of the woods, according to an area plumber.

“Now that today has warmed up significantly, there's been a lot more burst pipes underneath houses and exterior walls,” Sunset Plumbing service technician Joshua Langley said Monday.

That’s because when the water freezes, it expands -- and can crack or even burst the pipes -- but it often isn't noticeable until the temperatures warm and the ice melts.

That happened Sunday afternoon at Tumalo Community School. Luckily for them, they were able to act on it quickly.

“Definitely saved a lot of dollars to the building by catching it early,” said Tumalo Principal Justin Nicklous, “Obviously, the longer water is running through classrooms and onto books, we had about an inch of water in this classroom, but we were able to save just about all the books.”

Plumbers and firefighters responded to about 50 calls for frozen or busted pipes this weekend. At Pahlisch Homes in northeast Bend, the sprinkler system pipe burst and damaged parts of the ceiling and flooded the carpet.

“We'll assess the situation and see what might have caused it,” said Pahlisch Homes Marketing Director Jason Myhre, “With the temperatures as low as they are, it's an unusual situation. But we still want to make sure we're learning from it and seeing what might have caused it to break.”

Langley suggests a simple tip that could prevent a complicated problem.

“Leave your faucets on, if you know you don't have well-insulated pipes or an older home or anything like that,” Langley said, “Leave your faucets on a little bit and get it to just trickle out. Moving water is a lot harder to get it to freeze.”

Nicklous said the damage could have been long-lasting, but he is optimistic school will be open Tuesday.

“We had a great custodial crew last night that worked into the evening,” Nicklous said, “A lot of people responded from the district level as well, so we worked very hard to minimize that damage.”

Plumbers suggest if you do notice a crack in your pipes, make sure to shut off the water system to prevent flooding.

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