A historic cold snap in Texas left millions of residents without power in freezing weather, many of whom will soon face costly flood damage, even as rising temperatures offer a respite from the cold.
Reports of frozen and burst water pipes in Texas homes and businesses are widespread, and the upcoming thaw may further open the floodgates – quite literally, experts said.
“It is going to be crazy for a little while down there,” said Paul Abrams, director of public relations at Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Water Cleanup. “I would bet it’s pretty similar to the effects of a hurricane.”
In parts of the country that typically get freezing temperatures, walls are built thicker and with more insulation, and pipes may be several feet underground or run up through a basement to protect them, Abrams said. In Texas, where pipes are typically weatherized to handle the summer heat, more are on exterior walls or in attics.
“This is one of those things that doesn’t happen down there very often,” he said. “But boy, when it does, the damage hits hard.”
Though burst pipes won’t flood the streets as a storm like Hurricane Harvey would, they will cause significant damage to residences and businesses. Once thawed water again flows through the pipes, they will leak, plumbing experts said.
In Austin, pipe leaks — both in the water system and in homes — have been blamed for continuing water outages in the city.
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Austin Water saw 325 million gallons…