Water main breaks in Peters affect businesses, cancel school

Published Jan 9, 2014 at 7:16 am (Updated Jan 9, 2014 at 7:16 am)

Repairs to a break in a 60-year-old water main along Washington Road at Braun Drive in Peters Township around noon Jan. 7 failed to hold, and the line began to leak again at 11:35 p.m. the same night.

Water flowed along Braun Drive and Washington Road, causing icy conditions, said township police Capt. Michael Yanchak. Crews from Pennsylvania Water Co. arrived, but were soon called to another water main break on East McMurray Road at McNary Street, also in the township. Crews worked on the East McMurray Road break throughout the night until completing repairs at about noon Jan. 8.

Shelly Belcher, communications coordinator for the Peters Township School District, said the district was on a two-hour delay because of the extremely cold temperatures. At 6 a.m. Jan. 8, district representatives were notified by the water company of a possible shut-off of water service to the high school, along East McMurray Road, and the Pleasant Valley Elementary School on a road above the high school. Belcher said the decision was made to cancel all classes in the district. Classes were expected to resume Jan. 9. Police said when a salt truck from the state Department of Transportation arrived early Jan. 8 to clear the ice from Washington Road, the truck became stuck in a small sinkhole on Braun Drive.

Peter Overcashier, director of public works in the township, said Braun Drive is privately owned and that the water company would most likely be responsible for repairs.

Josephine Posti, external affairs specialist for PAWC, said the pipe that broke Jan. 7 near Braun Drive is a 6-inch, 60-year-old pipe. The break on East McMurray Road is an 8-inch, 60-year-old cast iron pipe.

She reported an increase in calls to the water company during and after the extremely cold temperatures. However, most of the calls were from homeowners complaining of frozen or broken pipes inside the houses. In that case, the responsibility lies with the homeowner, Posti said.

Township police and firefighters were kept busy answering alarms when pipes burst in several buildings late Jan. 7 and early Jan. 8. One building hard hit was Amici Place, 3055 Washington Road, where a broken sprinkler system line cascaded water from the third floor to the ground floor.

Ruth Scherer owner of Ruth Scherer Flooring, was notified at about 7 p.m. Jan. 7 of the break. On Jan. 8, she sat in the showroom surrounded by workmen, and soggy carpet and wooden floor samples wondering if any of her computers were inoperable.

“Everything is damaged,” she said while glancing up at the exposed duct work in the ceiling revealed after all of the water-soaked ceiling tiles were removed. “We’re in the process of trying to figure out what’s left.” Scherer said her main concern was mold.

She does have an off-site warehouse, so no installations were affected. Hopefully, by Saturday, the store will reopen.

On the floor above Scherer Flooring, the dehumidifiers and fans were humming, including in the Red Apple Reading Center Inc. One of the managers, Karly Cianflone, said she received a call at about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7. When she arrived, Cianflone found some of the center’s teachers sitting in their cars in the parking lot. Students and teachers were in the center when they heard a loud noise, saw some water and the alarms began to sound.

Restoration crews were busy Jan. 8 attempting to dry the area and putting styrofoam blocks under furniture to raise everything above the wet flooring.

Dennis Englert, crew chief with Disaster Restoration Services from Trafford, said an emergency crew worked in Amici Place through the night and weren’t expected to complete the clean up until late afternoon Jan. 8.

Like Scherer, Englert said it is essential to dry out the affected areas to eliminate the possibility of mold.

Other businesses reported damage from burst pipes including Atria’s Restaurant in the Donaldsons Crossroads Shopping Center, My Big Fat Greek Gyro, 502 Valley Brook Road, several businesses on the portion of Valley Brook Road affected by the road construction, and a private house in the 100 block of Kimber Drive.

Pat Herold, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said temperatures at the time of the water main breaks and sprinkler systems disruptions was about 4 to 5 degrees.

“There were no temperature swings and it was still cold,” Herold said.

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