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Burst pipes flood dozens of businesses
IMG 2095 Keswick Village
At least five buildings, which each have three apartments, experienced flooding from burst sprinkler pipes in the roof at the Keswick Village Apartments. - photo by Michelle Kim

The severe cold took its toll with burst pipes flooding dozens of businesses and homes across Rockdale this afternoon, and authorities expect to see more flooding this week as temperatures rise slightly and pipes thaw out.

Rockdale Fire and Rescue responded nonstop Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. to more than 20 calls of flooding from burst pipes.

Rockdale Fire and Rescue Chief Dan Morgan explained that as the sun warmed the 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," said Morgan. Pipes in lower areas that were not hit by the sunlight may have burst pipes that are still frozen.

Some of the flooded locations include the Keswick Village Apartments, the Kids R Kids daycare on Ga. Highway 20, Peachtree Academy near Salem Road, Barksdale Boys and Girls Club, Morningside of Conyers Assisted Living and the Rockdale Fire and Rescue's own headquarters at Station No. 7 on Rockbridge Road.

A burst pipe was reported outside the Rockdale County High School Annex building, which houses the Rockdale Magnet School classes, but classrooms were not affected, said a school system spokesperson.

At the Barksdale Boys and Girls Club in Conyers, the water started as a little drip down the sprinkler in the side rec room, said Education Director Deshaon Graddy.

Within a few minutes, the drip became a trickle and then a downpour. Foul smelling black water spewed down the walls and water stretched from door to door until firefighters could come to turn off the water. The teen center, on the other side of the building, remained undamaged as of 4 p.m.

"It's lucky we were here," said Graddy. The club had been closed for winter break and was scheduled to re-open Wednesday. Staff members had come in to prepare for re-opening when the flooding started.

The club is now closed until further notice, said Teen Center Director Carol Wyre, who fielded calls from worried parents who wondered what they were going to do with their kids.

The club serves about 300 children and teens in its daily educational and extracurricular programs.

At Keswick Village Apartments, at least five buildings saw burst sprinkler pipes and contractors remained busy vacuuming water from apartments and taking out waterlogged carpet padding and materials. Temperatures remained so cold the water froze in vacuum hoses as it was being sucked up.

One top floor resident, who declined to give her name, said the water was pouring down her chimney starting about midday.

Contractor Reginald Whitehead, who owns the Breathe Easy Fabric and Carpet Care company, said he hadn't seen this happen since 2002 when sprinkler pipes froze and burst in large numbers in apartment buildings across Atlanta during a cold spell.

Contractor Matt Fancher was called out to inspect the damage at the Barksdale Boys and Girls Club. Fancher, a Rockdale native 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 noted that many of the calls that Fire and Rescue fielded were for places that had been unoccupied for a time or next to a vacant place and heat had been turned down.

Morgan recommended that homeowners allow faucets to drip to prevent more pipes from freezing over and to open cabinets to allow the heat of the house to reach water pipes.

Another important piece of advice - "Know where your water cutoff is," said Morgan. "Every house should have an inside water cutoff," where the master source of water to the house can be controlled. Homeowners should know where that is so they can reduce any damage if there is flooding from a burst pipe.

Police are also warning drivers should also use caution for large puddles and wet areas that might become sheets of ice as temperatures drop overnight. Those areas, as of Tuesday, included the right southbound lane of Ga. Highway 138 at Flat Shoals Road, where a sprinkler pipe at the nearby McDonalds had burst.

Puddles were also reported at the Peaks Landing Apartments, Horizon Extended Stay and outside Rockdale Medical Center.

In the Milstead Avenue/Northside Drive/College Avenue area, a broken water main was reported. About 75 homes were without water for 5 hours as the main was repaired.

In Newton County, the Garden of Gesthemane homeless shelter in Covington had flooding in the women's building and staff were working on cleaning up to try and get residents back in. The Ashton Hills Golf Club course will be closed for a few days to have pipes repaired. Plastics manufacturer Pactive had a busted sprinkler at the plant. Riverside Health Care Center saw minor leaks.



(Jan. 7, 11:36 a.m.) So far, the effects of the bitter cold appear to be minimal, but about 300 Snapping Shoals power customers lost their power overnight.

Spokeswoman Leigh-Anne Burgess said "crews are in the process of changing out about 25 underground transformers that went bad overnight."

The News is still waiting on numbers from Georgia Power.

Check back later for more information.