Frozen Pipes Drench Ocean City in a New Kind of Flood

first_imgA familiar site in Ocean City, NJ, on Wednesday: plumbing trucks and icy streets outside homes where pipes had burst.Ocean City got a break from freezing temperatures on Wednesday and it started to rain. Not from the sky but from water pipes in homes throughout the island.A long stretch of freezing weather caused the pipes to burst, and the brief thaw allowed the water to flow.Hundreds of homes likely suffered damage, and many nonresident property owners may not yet know.The temperature fell to a record low 2 degrees on Monday morning in the middle of an unbroken four-day stretch of sub-freezing weather, and more record cold may be on the way._____Sign up for free daily news updates from Ocean City._____The low on Thursday night could fall below zero, which would break a record (of exactly 0 degrees) set in 1966. The daytime highs on Thursday and Friday won’t come close to climbing above the freezing mark.A stream of water flows from burst pipes to the street along the side of Jackie Mittleman’s home on 23rd Street.Owners should be prepared to make arrangements to check their properties several times during and after the freeze.Ocean City Police Capt. Steve Ang said that as of Wednesday morning, officers had reported 96 water leaks since Feb. 1, most of them in the prior 48 hours. He said they expected more through the remainder of the day, the week and into the weekend.On Thursday morning, Ang said the department had another 51 reported water leaks in the last 24 hours.Police are patrolling streets, looking for water streaming from unoccupied houses or flowing down driveways. Officers alert the Ocean City Fire Department or the New Jersey American Water Company to shut off the water flow, Ang said. And they attempt to contact homeowners through public records on file or through real estate offices.Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Breunig said the department has been extremely busy for a week to 10 days. He estimated firefighters had responded to almost 300 water leaks, and the department expects a lot more when it starts to warm up.Breunig said about 50 homes have suffered substantial damage with firefighters typically arriving to find water pouring from the ceilings. A leak at the Homestead Beach Hotel sent water running down seven floors. The department found a river running down an interior hallway of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 29th Street and Bay Avenue as a result of a frozen pipe.Not all burst pipes are reported to or by the police and fire departments. Real estate offices, plumbing contractors and insurance agencies all reported a flood of calls this week related to water damage or pre-emptive property checks.“We’ve had about a million phone calls,” said Nicole Presnall, a sales associate with the Presnall Group of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. “It’s kind of all hands on deck.”She’s fielded calls from the owners of properties she lists, and has hustled to visit each, turning up heat, running water, opening cabinets to allow heat to reach pipes (particularly ones that run along outside walls), and even bringing in portable heaters to thaw pipes before they burst.Bill McMahon, president of the McMahon Agency, said his insurance company has fielded claims related not just to frozen water pipes in homes, but to a frozen water line between the street and a home, to a frozen sewer pipe and a frozen gas line.“We’re seeing things that are not normal,” McMahon said.He said most customers “have a pretty good idea to check the house.” But he urged them to check it a couple times during the day, particularly when the weather starts to thaw.And he advised that the cost of an insurance deductible for damage repairs might easily exceed the cost of turning up the heat briefly in an unoccupied home to prevent pipes from freezing.The 200 block of 23rd Street was a makeshift ice rink on Wednesday afternoon as pipes from three different homes burst and water drained into the street.“It’s nuts,” said Jackie Mittleman, whose family has owned the same home since 1958 and never experienced anything like this.Two pipes under her house leading to an outside shower burst at different times, and plumber Guy Merollo was shutting down the water.The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce offered the following tips to protect homes during extreme cold:Be proactive about caring for your space by making sure you know where to turn your main water source off and on in the case of an emergency.Allow cold and hot faucets to drip in order to prevent pipes from freezing.Leave kitchen and bathroom cabinets open under the sink to allow pipes to be exposed to indoor heat.The Chamber also listed members who can help owners protect their homes and businesses:Atlantic City ElectricBroadley’s MDIC. Leo Wilson Plumbing, Heating & Air ConditioningCall WaitingComfort Now Gerry Palermo Plumbing, Heating, CoolingJ. Byrne Insurance AgencyMcAllister The Service CompanyMcMahon Insurance AgencyOff Season Home MonitoringPerone ElectricThomas Heist Insurance AgencyWallace Hardwarelast_img