ROCKINGHAM — Cold weather continued to cause problems for Richmond County residents over the weekend, freezing water lines and keeping children out of school for three days, but the worst damage may only show up after the ice thaws.
When water freezes in a water line, it expands and can split the pipes but residents won’t realize there is a problem until the ice melts, according to Paul Scholl, co-owner of Scholl Mechanical Company.
“A rash of leaks will hit in the coming days,” Scholl said, noting that the weather forecast for the remainder of the week shows low temperatures staying above freezing and reaching a high of 55 degrees Tuesday and as high as 67 degrees on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Scholl said that the company had gotten more than 30 calls to repair damage from frozen water lines since Thursday — after 2 to 4 inches of snow fell the previous day. Frozen water lines are a more common problem with older houses that don’t have as much insulation as newer homes, he added.
At the county level, Public Works Director Jerry Austin said county workers responded to more than 50 calls to shut off water service since Thursday — a preventative measure — including as many as 18 calls over the weekend.
Water line damage was reported across the state following Winter Storm Grayson, with repair crews at work Sunday from Wake Forest in Wake County to Marshville in Union County after lines broke, according to the Associated Press. In Cumberland County, the water utility directed customers to boil their water because cracks in water lines increase the chances of bacteria getting in.
WCTI reported that a sprinkler pipe burst inside a terminal at Pitt-Greenville Airport Saturday night. There were no flights on Saturday and there was minimal damage.
Richmond County Superintendent Cindy Goodman said enough ice lingered on the roads out in the county Sunday afternoon to keep children out of school on Monday.
“Although storms do differ, typically the northern end of the county is the most problematic,” Goodman said in an email. “For some reason the roads in Hamlet are especially icy this time, but there are numerous — too many to count — areas that are unsafe.
“Our goal is to have school everyday, but obviously safety is the priority,” she added.
Director of Transportation Corey Davis, who recommended to Goodman that schools be closed Monday, said when he and his staff assessed the danger on Sunday, they saw ice patches at stop signs, shaded areas and near the curbs. This, in addition to temperatures at and below freezing over the weekend, was enough to close schools.
“It’s a question of, ‘Would it be safe for a school bus to do a passenger stop in this area?’” Davis said. “It’s just a safety call.”
RCS will operate on a two-hour delay on Tuesday out of caution over the condition of the roads, according to spokesperson Briana Goins.
“Although there continue to be isolated slick spots, we will provide bus service wherever possible,” Goins said in a statement Monday afternoon. “We are instructing our drivers to use their discretion and not to attempt any road they deem unsafe.”
The National Weather Service decreased the Winter Weather Advisory area to the northwestern part of state by Monday afternoon. The service said the only area of central North Carolina that had a chance of freezing rain would be parts of Forsyth County.
“Elsewhere, only very localized or isolated brief patches of freezing temperatures, and thus freezing rain, are possible, with no notable ice accumulations,” the weather service said in a briefing. “However, for the most part we expect the majority of central N.C. will remain above freezing this evening and tonight, thus precluding freezing rain.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org