The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Big Story

January 7, 2014

The worst is over

ANDERSON, Ind. — Cold temperatures and 12 inches of snow have made travel slow going, but many residents are now battling frozen water pipes and vehicles that won’t start.

The morning low on Tuesday was 14 degrees below zero with the thermometer not expected to reach 32 degrees until Thursday.

Joe Miller, the manager of Roby’s Plumbing, 5508 S. Scatterfield Road, said the company is getting a lot of calls pertaining to frozen or broken water pipes.

“We’re covered up until Wednesday,” Miller said. “We have a full crew working to make the repairs.”

He said property owners with frozen or broken water pipes — unless there is an internal shut-off for the water — need to contact the city to have water turned off at the street.

Scott Starks, owner of Royal Flush Plumbing, said the problems with frozen or broken water pipes started Tuesday. He said the company, 5839 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., was able to get to 80 percent of the calls.

“It’s a freezer out there,” Starks said of the cold temperatures and snow. “We kind of figured it was coming.”

Royal Flush was receiving approximately 50 percent of its calls for broken water lines. Starks said more calls are expected today.

“We set a priority for calls,” he said. “We try to get to those people with broken pipes or no water first.”

Jennie Miller, co-owner of Nick’s Auto Service, 2815 Madison Ave., said they are getting a lot of calls regarding dead batteries or vehicles that won’t start.

“We’re backed up,” she said. “We have a lot of cars from last week. We have cars sitting on the frozen tundra in our parking lot.”

Miller said there would probably be some mandatory overtime for employees in an effort to get cars back on the road.

While Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith said the city was slowly getting back to normal, county officials were still trying to clear county roads on Tuesday.

Smith said the city’s snow task force was no longer activated, but some departments continued to work on snow removal.

He said one area of concern was the Indian Meadows subdivision in north Anderson. The city has hired private contractors to assist the city employees.

The City of Anderson Transportation System started running regular routes on Tuesday.

Smith said the city is tracking expenditures in case federal funds become available as a result of Gov. Mike Pence’s declaration of a snow emergency in 29 Indiana counties, including Madison.

Todd Harmeson, public information officer for the Madison County Emergency Management Agency, said roads in the county continued to be slick with a glaze of ice.

“The winds have subsided,” he said. “The highway department is making good progress.”

Harmeson said the highway department is being accompanied by wreckers to clear stranded vehicles from county roads.

He said 23 stalled vehicles have been found on a number of county roads.

With the temperatures expected to reach the mid to upper 40s this weekend, there is a concern about potential flooding.

“We have been plowing the main thoroughfares from curb to curb,” Smith said. “We want to keep the catch basins clear. We want to prepare for the melting and avoid flooding on city streets.”

Harmeson said EMA officials are not concerned about river or stream flooding over the weekend.

“The issue will be low-lying areas,” he said. “Residents in low-lying areas should be aware of the flooding possibility.

“This will be the third punch,” Harmeson said of the snowfall and subzero temperatures since Sunday.

Madison County Commissioner Steffanie Owens said the county might lift the emergency declaration overnight to a travel advisory.

“We can’t plow some roads because of stalled vehicles,” she said. “We have 10 to 15 roads that are still blocked. The Indiana National Guard is providing tow trucks to assist with the removal of stranded vehicles.”

Owens said the county has hired private contractors to assist with the plowing of county roads.

“We’re making some headway,” she said.

A slow return to normalcy was taking place in both Alexandria and Elwood on Tuesday.

Jeff Howe, public information officer for Elwood, said conditions were slowly getting back to normal. Like all over the county, he said, the roads are slick and ice covered.

The travel restriction will probably be lifted at 7 a.m. today, Howe said.

“There have been no other problems,” he said. “The warmer weather will help on the roads with the melting.”

Mayor Ron Arnold said city crews will make sure the storm grates are cleared to handle the runoff from the snow melt.

“We’re close to normal,” Alexandria Mayor Jack Woods said. “It’s hard with the cold and the ice. There is some snow in the middle of the streets, but we have to work around that.”

He said several water meters burst from the cold temperatures and had to be replaced.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.

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