Two businesses were closed last week after suffering water damage when water in the sprinkler system at the Rural King Shopping Center appeared to freeze and burst the sprinkler pipes Christmas night.
The Rural King store was not affected, but two nearby businesses — the government surplus store and the New Life Thrift Shop — were flooded and had to close. The surplus store re-opened Friday. The thrift shop has not announced a re-opening date.
Last Tuesday, water was still pouring from some of the sprinkler heads in some of the empty stores in the shopping center. By Thursday, a crew was starting to work on the sprinkler system.
Officials said a passerby saw water flowing from the business doors and called 911. Sharon Gallimore, owner of the thrift store said emergency workers called her about 11 p.m. Christmas night. She said when she arrived it looked like a car wash inside the stores, with water spewing everywhere.
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One witness said water was about 18 inches high in some of the stores.
Gallimore said the sprinkler went off in her store’s storage area located beside the shop, but the store’s sprinkler system did not go off and the store only suffered flood damage. Everything in her storage area was drenched.
The store owner said she is not sure when the store will re-open. In addition, the carpet needs to be pulled up and the floors dried. She must also go through everything in storage to see what can be saved.
It will take days for the floor to dry and have another floor installed, she said Thursday.
Temperatures over the holiday weekend dipped below zero at times and high winds whipped the area, leading to frozen and busted water pipes throughout the area.
Larry Sharitz, owner of Home and Commercial Cleaning, said he started getting calls the morning of Dec. 26. Plumbers all over town were getting calls and were scooping up supplies, leading to a supply shortage.
“We had to turn down some people because you couldn’t get supplies to fix the problem,” Sharitz said, adding that he also got calls about fixing water damage caused by burst pipes.
Wytheville Fire/EMS Chief Marc Brade said his department ran more than 80 calls for service beginning Friday, Dec. 23, through Monday, Dec. 26. Emergency workers were still receiving similar calls on Tuesday.
“Obviously, many of them were a result of the bitter cold temperatures,” Brade said. “The calls ranged from power lines down, trees down, EMS calls and certainly waterline breaks both residential and commercial.”
Brade said that in many cases, emergency workers have the ability to secure water lines for sprinkler systems and homes, but also at times, they need assistance from public works.
“When those types of calls happen, other than securing the water system that supplies the buildings, it then becomes a maintenance service need,” he said. “With many of the businesses closed for the holidays, sometimes the 911 calls originate from alarm monitoring systems or from a person that drives by and sees water coming from doors. Either way, unfortunately with our type of business, the damage is already done and we do our best to mitigate any further damage.”
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email firstname.lastname@example.org