Breaking water mains and pipes wreak havoc

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Severe weather last week continues to impact St. Louis area residents this week.  Bitter cold caused some underground water mains and even indoor water pipes to freeze and break.

One visible example of the trouble the St. Louis County water utility ( Missouri American Water) has faced occurred at a Maryland Heights apartment complex Tuesday morning off the Page Extension.  An eight inch main broke in the Bennington Heights complex causing some flooding in low lying apartments.

Missouri American Water has responded to 400 water main breaks over the past seven days in St. Louis County.

The firm indicated residents who have belongings damaged by the water should contact their Customer Service office at 1-866-430-0820.  The service is available 24/7 but is experiencing a high volume of calls.

Damage restoration firms are also experiencing heavy demand.  Woodard Restoration has received 500 calls for water damage over the past seven days.  Burst pipes have been reported in schools, businesses and homes.

Company spokesman Justin Woodard reported, "Over the last week we have had an influx of calls that has been second only to the time when Hurricane Ike came through St. Louis."

Removing damaged property from the water is the first step.  Cold , dry air offers some help since it does not provide the conditions needed for mold to grow.

Many homeowner insurance policies will cover damage from weather related pipe breaks.

Jim and Charleen Hallermann of Sunset Hills were stunned by the damage a broken pipe did in their home.  "We just couldn`t believe it," Charleen Hallermann said Tuesday as a crew from Woodard ripped up sopping carpet from her basement den.  "We had 23,000 gallons come out of a small pipe between the laundry room and the kitchen," she said.  Water damaged hardwood floors on the first floor and then flowed to the den and office in the basement.

The Hallermann`s were visiting relatives out of town when the break occurred.  A neighbor noticed the water on Thursday and managed to turn off the service.

"The china cabinet was sitting in water and we came down here and you had to put boots was squish squish squish."

She is trying to salvage math books she uses to teach college calculus, dozens of yearbooks and photos of her seven children.
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