Day-care facility among victims of busted pipes following arctic temperatures
by Wes Mayer
With this week’s freezing temperatures breaking record lows throughout Georgia, some area residents and businesses are unfortunately finding their water pipes cannot handle the cold.
Lows early Tuesday in Coweta County were reported as low as 5 degrees, and temperatures remained in the teens Wednesday morning before rising above freezing by Wednesday afternoon.
From 8 a.m. Tuesday to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Coweta County Water and Sewerage Authority responded to 81 calls in reference to frozen pipes, with homeowners requesting their water be shut off, according to Rick Jones, manager of the Infrastructure and Safety Department with the authority.
One major incident occurred at the International Learning Academy day-care center on 210 Jefferson Parkway off Millard Farmer Industrial Boulevard. At 5 a.m. Tuesday, the owner, Monica Peart, received a call from the alarm company reporting a water leak in the building next door, which is part of the day-care center. Peart said she and her husband arrived to find the building’s gymnasium flooding because a water pipe had frozen and burst. Fortunately, they were able to control the flooding and returned home.
Three hours later, Peart said she was called again by the alarm company, and this time water was leaking in the main day-care building. This time, they arrived to find at least 1 to 2 inches of water flooding the halls and numerous rooms — multiple pipes in the ceiling sprinkler system had frozen, cracked under the pressure and burst, sending water everywhere.
Water ruined seven of the center’s 11 day-care rooms, Peart said. Carpets and tile floors were damaged, children’s toys, clothing and games were soaked, walls were dampened and discolored after absorbing the water, and the water that flowed outside froze to become slick, icy patches.
“Even though everything is now in shambles,” Peart said, “I just thank God nobody got hurt.”
The silver lining was that no children or employees were in the day-care when the pipes burst. Peart said because Coweta County schools were canceled Monday and Tuesday, the day-care center was closed. Peart and her husband worked for around six hours with help from the Newnan Fire Department, and they were able to stop most of the water from flowing.
Despite the damage, Peart said the center reopened on Wednesday, and there are still four day-care rooms operational — Peart said each room can hold at least 20 children, and there are currently 50 enrolled in the International Learning Academy.
Peart said, if needed, they can temporarily move to the building next door, which can hold up to 125 children. With all the ice on the property, though, Peart said the children likely won’t be playing outside any time soon, and many toys were ruined.
“It’s just a major inconvenience for everybody,” Peart said.
Peart said it was difficult to estimate how much it would cost to repair the damage, but said it will definitely take a few weeks of work. Peart hopes the insurance company will help cover the costs, but she has never had a problem like this before, she said.