Crews brave icy water, chilly winds to repair cracked pipes

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Going outside is bitterly cold enough. Imagine having to work day and night in icy, wet, windy conditions. That has been the case for some public works employees in Gulfport since temperatures took a sharp dive Monday night. The frigid weather has kept crews extra busy.

A crew spent Wednesday morning on 32nd Street repairing a damaged water pipe.

"We had a small main break and what we'll do is we'll dig it down, pump the water out, rip out the section that cracked, put in a new section and fill it back up," said Gulfport Public Works Director Wayne Miller.

Water from the ruptured line spilled onto the road overnight and transformed into ice. It was one of four pipes that public works crews in Gulfport had to repair since temperatures took a frigid plunge Monday night. Miller said all the repairs cost the city a couple of thousand dollars.

"On overtime, with the employees and some equipment, but luckily for us, with us having just one major event from the freezing temperatures, it's not a big cost to the city," he said.

The most extensive project took place at the corner of 50th Street and Kendall Avenue. A water line froze and broke Tuesday morning. A crew of four men spent 19 hours, at times, wading in icy water to make the repairs.

"Water, yes, up to their chest. I don't know. It just amazed me that they were able to do it," said Dorothy Jenner of Gulfport.

Mrs. Jenner watched and waited as the men toiled in her yard, enduring the bone-chilling weather. The long process involved removing a tree that had been undermined by the broken line and disconnecting the power.

"The water was coming out of the main over there. When my housekeeper came, she thought we had a hot spring out here," said Jenner.

Hours later, the workers returned to wrap-up the repairs. Mrs. Jenner won't have to deal with the muddy mess much longer, thanks to the men who braved the big chill and worked overtime to get the job done.

"I'm just very grateful that they're able to do. I appreciate their work," said Jenner.

Gulfport's public works director said several neighbors on Kendall Avenue showed their appreciation to the workers by giving them food and drinks to help keep them warm.

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