Monday, February 2, 2004

Pipes freeze, leaks flow

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Weary waterworks employees were looking forward to a break today from the weekend's record cold that burst hundreds of pipes across the region, delaying school events, temporarily closing a YMCA and keeping area plumbers hopping.

Classes were expected to resume this morning at Mason High School, where broken pipes meant about 2,000 people attending a swim meet and a dance competition had to be evacuated Saturday.

"We have everything cleaned up," said superintendent Kevin Bright on Sunday.

After the Mason Fire Department checked the high school,the meet with Ursuline Academy, St. Xavier High School and Mason swimmers was allowed to resume, Bright said, but a regional dance competition had to be pushed back to Sunday.

In Anderson Township, a YMCA of Greater Cincinnati official said the organization hoped to be able to allow members to use its gym and child care on Tuesday. Water flooded the building over the weekend, closing it at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. It reopened at noon Sunday.

The gym floor is the biggest concern, said Rick Madison, executive director. "We hope it will be salvageable, but we don't know yet." Two computers, light fixtures, furniture and carpet need to be repaired or replaced.

Jeff Pieper, an assistant superintendent at Greater Cincinnati Water Works, said there were more than 500 calls reporting broken pipes Saturday, and more than 100 on Sunday.

Water Works crews repaired five main breaks Saturday from Sycamore to Delhi townships, Pieper said, and at least two on Sunday.

Dan Schlueter, co-owner of Schlueter Plumbing in Sharonville, said the company received about 70 calls from frantic homeowners on Sunday.

"I generally don't work on Sunday," Schlueter said. "(But) if people don't have water, it's an emergency."



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