Burst pipes leave damage in wake

December 15, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Village Theatre, AtWork! sustain water damage

AtWork! employees were gathered for a late-afternoon meeting last week when someone heard what sounded like rain — coming from inside the building.

Employees watched as water gushed from the ceiling, and then leapt into action to cut off the supply and shove buckets beneath the leak, administrative assistant Winter Taylor said. The source of the deluge was a burst pipe, brought on by days of below-freezing temperatures.

Lucky for the employees, the accident occurred when fewer people were in the building, after clients left. The organization helps disabled people learn skills and find jobs.

Homeowners and workers throughout Issaquah endured similar inconveniences last week as the mercury plummeted.

The deep freeze and subsequent problems caused calls to spike to Eastside Fire & Rescue and the city Public Works Operations Department as property owners sought to deal with the damage. EFR crews responded to more than a dozen calls related to flooding caused by burst pipes.

A near-disaster brought on by old pipes and below-freezing temperatures brought the house down at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre building.

Crews started cleanup efforts Dec. 10 to remove insulation frozen by leaking water. The frozen insulation then fell from the ceiling.

The damage claimed KIDSTAGE costumes, a soundboard and other equipment. Managers did not have cost estimates for the damage by late last week, theater spokeswoman Michelle Sanders said.

The theater facilities manager discovered the damage after temperatures in the teens caused pipes to burst and prompted alerts from local emergency management agencies.

Village Theatre is in the midst of a large-scale renovation of the First Stage building. Sanders said the water damage would not interrupt any productions, because plans had been made to accommodate First Stage and KIDSTAGE productions during the remodel.

Initial plans called for a remodel of the 96-year-old building. After officials learned the building lacked a foundation and had sinking walls, the renovation plans were overhauled to a $2.8 million effort to upgrade the structure, lighting, sound and ventilation systems.

Pipes also froze at Gibson Hall, the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah clubhouse along Newport Way Southwest.

Though the pipes froze and ruptured, the hall escaped additional damage because crews turned off water at the meter, and the water in the pipes was not enough to cause damage.

“We were very fortunate not to have any water damage,” Don Robertson, chairman of the Kiwanis Gibson Hall committee, said Dec. 14. He estimated the damage would be repaired within a few days.

Elsewhere in the city, Public Works Operations employees received calls for “no water” — a sign of frozen pipes. Most of the calls related to frozen lines on private property; property owners are responsible for the thaw.

A few calls resulted because meters froze, and city crews responded. The number of frozen meters was typical for a lengthy freeze.

Issaquah School District campuses, meanwhile, made it through unscathed. Lissy Mandel, a district communications specialist, received no reports of broken, leaking or frozen pipes during the cold snap.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink contributed to this report. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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