Staff scrambles to clean business flooded by burst pipes - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Staff scrambles to clean business flooded by burst pipes

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Approximately and inch and a half of water surged to the floor of the front lobby after a pipe burst. Approximately and inch and a half of water surged to the floor of the front lobby after a pipe burst.
Part of the ceiling caved in after the pipe burst, sending water plummeting to the ground below. Part of the ceiling caved in after the pipe burst, sending water plummeting to the ground below.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Frigid cleanup efforts are underway in areas where the cold temperatures have made water pipes freeze up and then burst. It has meant a busy time for restoration crews who rush in to do cleanup and repairs after property damage like fires or, in this case, sudden indoor floods.

Recovery crews worked by flashlight to suck up water, while office staff used paper towels in an attempt to protect their computers at Dermatology Associates in Huntsville Tuesday.

Darrell Riley with ABC Cleaning and Restoration had his work cut out for him on this job. He said the damage done at the office covered a large area, and there were many items inside at risk of being destroyed or waterlogged.

"You have to remove building materials that are obviously not salvageable, and you have to get the water out and try to get the drying process started," Riley said of the cleaning process.

Alarms continued to sound as workers bailed and swept the soggy building. The culprit: sprinkler pipes in the ceiling had frozen and then burst, soaking the walls and ceiling.

"Thousands of gallons of water suddenly came down in the lobby, in the front foyer. We had it coming down like rain at one time," said Dr. John Sowell.

Part of the ceiling caved in, sending approximately and inch and a half of water surging to the floor of the front lobby.

"Our patients, they didn't know what was going on," said office administrator Aaryn Lee. "Some of them were getting wet; some were helping us move things out of the lobby."

As shocking as the mess was to everyone caught in the middle of it, it wasn't a surprise to Riley. He said he saw this coming as soon as he saw the weather forecast.

"It was when I saw that it was going to be that cold and we were going to deal with that for close to 72 hours that I knew, ‘okay, we were going to have some issues,'" he said.

The issues came in rapid succession Tuesday around lunchtime, and then picked up again as people started arriving home and discovering damage there.

Doctors at Dermatology Associates are hoping to be back in operation by Monday. Riley figured the current rash of flooding and damage from broken pipes will end in the coming days, once the weather gets back above freezing. However, he's expecting a new flurry of frantic calls come dawn Wednesday, for new cases of pipes that freeze and burst overnight.

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