While this past week’s winter storm kept most residents stuck inside their homes, the Lewisville 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.
From 5 p.m. Wednesday to midnight Thursday, Lewisville dispatch responded to approximately 250 calls for service related to broken water lines, said city spokesman Matt Martucci.
Other cities were plagued by frozen pipes as well. Carrollton Fire Rescue, for example, reported that calls for service, including those related to water leaks, were up 1,200 percent in the past week compared to a typical week.
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.”
Thursday the city of Lewisville issued a boil-water notice because water pressure has dropped below the safe standard of 20 psi. The area impacted Lewisville water customers and Denton County Fresh Water Supply District #1 water customers located in the northeast part of the city.
Residents in the affected area were told not drink tap water without boiling it first. They were told to bring all water to a boil, let it boil for two minutes, and let it cool before using; or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice.
Several entities, including Music City Mall, opened up to provide warming stations for residents who had no electricity to heat their homes.
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.
Because of the weather and power outages, Lewisville ISD cancelled classes for last week. Classes resume Monday.