winter storm

North Texans Grapple with Ongoing Outages, No Running Water, Bursting Pipes

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There were more than 59,000 businesses or homes in North Texas’ four largest counties without power on Thursday afternoon.

Some of these affected customers have been in the dark for more than 80 hours and counting.

Others are back home but are dealing with frozen pipes bursting.

“It’s definitely been something I probably won’t ever forget,” said Syed Abbas of south Fort Worth.

Abbas said he has been without power since Sunday night.

He has resorted to breaking wooden items to burn after he ran out of firewood.

“Because clearly I care a lot about my mother, so I need to make sure she’s good,” he said.

The nonprofit organization Texas Baptist Men delivered firewood to the family later in the day.

Winter Weather Recovery

After several days of sub-freezing temperatures, some melting is expected Friday and Saturday.

What to Do About Frozen Pipes to Minimize Big Problems

NBC 5 Forecast: Slippery Roads Return but Warm-Up Coming

North Texans aren’t just dealing with ongoing power outages, many are running out of basic necessities like water, eggs, milk and bread.

Maureen Sellers of Commerce had her power restored and opened her home to 20 family members and friends not expecting groceries to run low on food. Her water was turned off by the city three or four days ago, she said.

“The gas stations are completely without gas,” Sellers said.

Another problem has exploded across Dallas-Fort Worth: bursting water pipes. And it's only expected to get worse as Texas thaws out.

“Our garage had a busted pipe. It started leaking through the ceiling,” said Jeff McCoy of University Park. “I had to scramble into the alley to find the main water shut-off.”

Fortunately, a plumber was able to locate several leaks on Thursday afternoon and fix the issues that presented themselves after power was restored to the home.

“You need to know where your main water valve is, for coming into your house,” he said. “Find the valve. I had to dig in the snow, I couldn’t find it."

Once pipes begin to thaw, thousands of Texans could find themselves in this situation.

“I think there’s going to be many, many people going to have this issue,” McCoy said.

Plumber Edwin Hernandez, like other professionals, has been working nonstop the last couple of days.

“If you wake up to no water, the first thing you do is go outside and turn off the water,” Hernandez said.

For people who return to their homes after losing power and notice an issue with frozen pipes, “turn on your heat, open your cabinets and let those pipes thaw out by itself," Hernandez said.

"Don’t try to put extreme heat to it,” he said.

Hernandez suggests placing a portable heater at a distance to attempt to warm the pipes, but do not place it very close.

Leaks may not be immediately noticeable given the frozen water inside.

The city of Plano posted a step-by-step video showing how to turn off water.

People are also urged to call a plumber if a frozen pipe has burst.

As the Winter storm that hit North Texas ticks on, the wait time for plumbers grows. All across the industry in DFW, the number of calls have already set records. NBC 5’s Allie Spillyards reports.

But as the storm ticks on, the wait time for plumbers grows.

“Unfortunately, they are all over the metroplex, because we here are in Texas are just not set up for such cold weather for such a sustained time," said master plumber with Berkeys Plumbing Jacob Gibson.

Gibson said across the industry in DFW, the number of calls have already set records. He expects they'll only increase in the days to come as Texas begins to thaw out.

“This right here is probably going to last through the entire month of March at least because there’s going to be so many people who have so many issues and it’s just going to be a backup trying to get through it," said Gibson.

It's a reality Kristen and Christopher Sims were told to prepare for after they checked on their Rockwall home yesterday morning to find water pouring from the foundation.

“It was literally gushing like Niagra Falls out of my ceiling," said Kristen Sims.

Now their home without power is not only cold but also unlivable.

“Our house is, I mean, the carpets, the floors, my walls, my entire closet. It rained from the ceiling down. I have no clothes," said Sims.

With some plumbing experience, Christopher was able to stop the leak. But when it comes to the remediation necessary for waterlogged floors and walls, they've been told it could be at least a month until someone can get to them.

“We called every single restoration company in any vicinity around us that’s willing to come, and there is a waiting list of hundreds of people," said Sims. “It’s a living nightmare. I know there are people out there that are in even worse situations than us, God Bless them. We’re just all taking it all day by day and minute by minute and just trying to survive."

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