The frigid weather that gripped most of the nation Tuesday played havoc with Winder’s utilities department, where employees responded to about 300 reports of either frozen pipes or loss of natural gas service.
Director Roger Wilhelm told the Winder City Council Tuesday night that his department had fielded about 150 calls in the morning about loss of natural gas service and just as many calls throughout the day about frozen water pipes — many from commuters who discovered their broken pipes after arriving home from work Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday’s low plunged to about 6 degrees Fahrenheit, and the high didn’t make it above 28, according to online weather information.
“It’s been a long day,” Wilhelm said, noting that one of his employees was assigned exclusively to taking calls for service all day long.
There were a couple of areas in town that experienced very low pressure in the natural gas lines, he said.
“With the extra cold temperatures, we started the day out with a very wide pressure spring in the natural gas system…,” he said. “In the early part of the day we were making a lot of adjustments to the natural gas system.”
Most of the afternoon calls were about broken water pipes.
“There have been a lot of broken pipes,” he told the council just after 6 p.m., adding: “We have two crews working on main breaks right now.”
One of the areas most affected by the loss of gas pressure was the Villas at Winder, an over-55 residential community of more than 200 homes off Highway 11 just north of downtown.
Resident Bill Brown said the entire development — that uses natural gas for heat, for hot water heaters, and for gas logs— lost service.