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Water leaks slow as weather warms
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Calls for broken water pipes slowed Thursday, though dozens of residents were still discovering leaks as the water in their pipes fully thawed after this week’s hard freeze.

The damage appeared to be limited mainly to residents and businesses, with hundreds of water customers affected this week; both Covington and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority reported limited damage to their infrastructures.

Water Authority Executive Director Mike Hopkins said his organization received about 100 calls Wednesday and a similar number Thursday, as residents needed help turning off water to their homes to limit damage and allow plumbers to make repairs.

"So, far our infrastructure has held up well, (and we’ve had) no significant leaks on our side, as of this afternoon. We have been blessed," Hopkins said.

He said the only extra cost to the authority has come from employee overtime; the authority has had an extra two to three people helping residents.

The city of Covington handled around 70 calls to turn off water, Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon said Thursday, but the city had no issues with its water mains.

More businesses and buildings were damaged Wednesday, including two Oxford College buildings that had broken sprinklers, and Summerset Apartments on Salem Road, which experienced some flooding.

A cooling tower at the Historic Courthouse failed and overflowed Wednesday, dumping water into the building’s parking lot for about 20 minutes. Sand and calcium chloride were placed on the parking lot, and no accidents or injuries were reported, according to county facilities manager Jason Johnson.

Covington Fire Station No. 2 on Alcovy Road flooded after water pipes broke, Covington Fire Marshal Capt. Tony Smith said early Wednesday, while the fire department also responded to reports of water pipe breaks at Little Folks Campus child-care center on Mill Street.

No major issues were reported at area businesses Thursday.

Homeowners paying for repairs may be able to get reimbursed under their homeowner’s insurance policies, Ralph Hudgens, Georgia insurance commissioner, said earlier this week. Policies may also cover damage to furniture and other personal property.

Temperatures were expected to stay above freezing Thursday night and over the next six days, according to the National Weather Service. Friday’s high is expected to be 49, while temps could reach 62 degrees Saturday and 55 degrees Sunday.