LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Lawton residents who thought the cold was the worst part of the winter storm are learning that the water problems caused by the cold are a far greater problem. Many residents across the city woke up this morning to discover that the pipes in their homes that froze over busted and are leaking through their homes. Others, whose pipes are still frozen, are without access to water.
Plumbers say they haven’t been this busy in years and city officials say because their priority is to ensure that everyone has access to drinking water cut offs have been postponed until the snow thaws.
A retired couple, who chose not to be on camera woke up yesterday morning to the sound of water dripping in their bathroom.
Within moments, they say, the water began to gush.
“In a panic we were trying to put on shoes and stuff to go outside and try to find that water meter and it started running so I was really scared,” the couple said.
The couple is one of many across the city who are dealing with water issues.
Director of Public Utilities for the City of Lawton, Rusty Whisenhunt, says in addition to the city having at least a dozen main line water breaks, residents are experiencing leaks in their own homes.
He says residents can expect higher water bills not only because of the leaks but having to drip faucets over the last several days.
“Our water demand has gone up to what we would expect in the middle of the summer when everyone is irrigating their yards,” Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt says residents can expect an increase of 15 to 25 dollars on their water bills this month.
But there is some good news, the city has grant money designated to help residents who are struggling to pay their bills.
Residents can visit Lawtonok.gov to see if they qualify for assistance.
Plumber, John McLaughlin, says the demand for water is just about as high as the demand for plumbers.
He says there are some things people can do to restore water to their homes if their pipes are still frozen.
“I had a house this week where they had no water to certain fixtures so I looked at it and said ok that pipe is running right here so put some heat on this wall. They had a little heat lamp and opened up what they could and put a little heat lamp right by that wall. It’s going to take a few hours but if you warm up that wall it’s going to heat up that pipe. Giving it a little extra heat that isn’t there normally will help it thaw out,” McLaughlin said.
He says if you’re planning on thawing out pipes with heat though, make sure you stay home while you’re doing it.
“You want to make sure you’re home while you’re doing this. You don’t want it to thaw out and find out like these people had, they had a split pipe,” McLaughlin said.
Whisenhunt says anyone who suspects a main water break is causing leaks near their home can call 580-581-3419.