By Raymond Monasterski
This winter’s cold weather has brought more than frozen precipitation.
Many Rockbridge area property owners have been plagued by frozen pipes, especially in frigid February. The result has been residents without water and heat, soaked books at the Rockbridge Regional Library and an abnormally high number of water main breaks.
“There were three days where we got 136 calls,” said plumber Stanley Dudley of S.W. Dudley Plumbing, Drain Cleaning, and Heating. “Of course we couldn’t get to all of them.”
After the warmest January in the U.S. in three years Virginia experienced February temperatures that were far below average, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Much of the state, including the Rockbridge area, saw record lows.
Dudley said he and two employees had to prioritize calls during the coldest weather, helping older residents and those without both water and heat first.
On Feb. 23 ice collected in the fire sprinkler system at the Rockbridge Regional Library Headquarters in Lexington, causing a pipe to burst.
Library director Julie Goyette said the burst pipe damaged carpeting and 21 books in the book drop area. The library also had a gutter collapse after ice caused the gutter to separate from the roof on the outside breezeway.
The library was closed the next day, a Monday. Goyette said the library doesn’t see as much traffic on Mondays.
“Really, only 21 books were damaged,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that’s all that was damaged.” She said insurance would cover the loss.
Other properties around the area have fared worse in winter’s wrath.
David Stull of Sterling Properties manages 150 locations in the Rockbridge and surrounding areas. He said about 10 of his properties had pipes freeze and burst this winter.