While this past week’s winter storm kept most residents stuck inside their homes, the Coppell Fire Department was busier than ever.
Residents across the state, including in North Texas, had to deal with several issues related to the winter storm, including prolonged power outages.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) initially said the outages would last 15-45 minutes but it ultimately lasted for three days or more for some residents.
Because of the unusually cold temperatures and in many cases the inability for heaters to function a new problem emerged – busted water pipes.
According to the Coppell Fire Department, from 7 a.m. Feb. 14 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday the department responded to approximately 493 calls, with 416 of those being water related.
Fire officials said the average number of calls the department goes on per day is 10 on a typical week. But over the past week the call volume ranged from 30 (24 were water related) to 146 (135 water related) Tuesday.
Residents across North Texas took to social media to either share their experiences, ask questions on how to manage or offer assistance.
Josh Miller, a Denton County plumber, described on social media what he witnessed earlier in the week as residents began feeling the effects of the freezing temperatures.
“In all my years of plumbing I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “I talked to over 200 people throughout the day (Monday). Saw five homes completely flooded, multiple customers in tears because of their homes being destroyed and nothing that could be done to help them.”
Miller described the challenge residents faced with trying to protect their plumbing but not having the heat to do so.
“Even with faucets dripping, if you don’t have heat it’s just not helping … still seeing pipes freeze and bust,” he said.
Denton County resident Jennifer Turner was one of several residents whose water line froze and burst. On social media she said, “… we had Niagara Falls spewing and flowing. Our water valve was submerged under an icy slush mixture of water and mud. No fun trying to feel for it while water is spraying and freezing all over you and you are panicking.”
In addition, firefighters also responded to a house fire that resulted when the homeowner attempted to thaw a frozen pipe with a torch. The department stated the house had minor damage.
Because of the lack of electricity and/or water, plus icy conditions, many businesses shut down for two to three days, including restaurants and grocery stores, making it difficult to find food and basic necessities.
Several cities, not including Coppell as of press time, implemented boil water notifications since treatment plants were unable to operate.
The city opened The CORE as a warming station for those who lost power and could not heat their homes.
Coppell ISD closed school through Friday, but classes resume Monday.