State warms up, pipes thaw out, plumbers get busy

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana warmed up, pipes thawed out and plumbers got busy.

After two nights of record low temperatures in Monroe, plumber Joel Nichols was busy. Reached about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nichols said he’d just finished his sixth job and expected three or four more to keep him busy until midnight.

Monroe, in northeast Louisiana, notched record lows of 13 for both Jan. 6 and Jan. 7.

It took a few hours above freezing on Wednesday before pipes really began to thaw, said Nichols, owner of A Bell Plumbing in West Monroe.

He said one customer probably noticed that her water pressure was low but didn’t realize she had a broken pipe until she went into her backyard and saw water spewing under her house.

In New Orleans, where the temperature this week never got below 26, Pete Graffeo Jr. of Pete’s Plumbing and Heating wasn’t as busy as he’d thought he might be. He had received numerous calls Monday and Tuesday from people with frozen pipes, but many canceled their appointments Wednesday, finding their pipes had thawed intact.

He said he thinks many others insulated their pipes ahead of time, helped out by newspaper, radio and television warnings that an Arctic air mass was on the way.

Wednesday’s highs were 43 in Monroe and 44 in New Orleans.

Five above-ground water lines broke at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe, Director Joseph Clawson said.

Since the city owns the zoo, the utilities department would help with any lines that broke underground, he said.

Clawson said his staff fixed water lines in the elk barn and capybara exhibit because they’re needed to get water to the animals.

Two other breaks were at the tiger’s pool and an outdoor pool built last year for the zoo’s baby hippo.

“We haven’t been filling the outside pool for the last two weeks or so, because of the cool weather. But we didn’t drain that line. We should have turned it off and drained it,” Clawson said.