As South Jersey residents cope with the frigid temperatures in our area, some homeowners in Ocean City have been dealing with bigger problems than just the cold.
Ocean City fire officials say water pipes have been bursting throughout the island, causing severe damage to many homes. "There's a lot of property value being lost," explained Captain Chris Meyer of the Ocean City Fire Department.
While citizens continue to repair and rebuild their homes from Hurricane Sandy damage, January's bitter weather has not made their lives any easier. The New Jersey American Water Company and local fire officials are working together to prevent further damage.
James Smith, Deputy Chief of the Ocean City Fire Department, told NBC40, "Our procedures call for us to go there and to see if we can turn it off, the water, to prevent any further damages."
The Ocean City Fire Department has been overwhelmed with calls, close to 50 this past week alone, from residents reporting that either their home or their neighbor's homes have pipes that have burst.
Captain Meyer explained, "The water is running through the pipes of the houses and damaging a lot of these properties that were already severely damaged from Sandy."
Officials say that many of the homes with burst pipes are properties that belong to seasonal residents and that these issues happen every year. Deputy Chief Smith said, "They didn't have a house 'winterized' with the heat set at 50 degrees or higher, which is probably the best number, opening up the cabinet doors to your sink so that the heat gets into it so that it's not blocked out."
However, sometimes having the heat on isn't enough. Officials warned that if the batteries in the home's thermostat die, the heater would not operate. In turn causing the pipes to freeze, which can cause severe property damage.
As temperatures are expected to rise this week and homes begin to thaw out, firefighters say they anticipate more evidence of broken pipes and flooded homes.
Captain Meyer said, "Yeah, over the next few days we will be responding to several more of these water leaks."
Ocean City Fire Department officials urge all homeowners to check with a plumber to make sure their water is turned off properly before leaving their homes for the winter.