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Traverse City ramps up battle against frozen pipes

Traverse City has doubled the number of crews working to thaw out pipes throughout the city.

Last week, Traverse City saw a huge uptick in the number of people calling in to complain about frozen water pipes. As of yesterday, more than 300 people had called in.

In response, the city doubled its effort. It now has five crews working overtime to thaw out pipes at residences throughout the city.

Acting City Manager Penny Hill said the city has a handle on the situation. Hill said crews have thawed out more than 200 pipes so far, using borrowed equipment from private companies.

The city is advising residents to make sure their pipes are properly insulated. If your water is discolored or coming in at a low pressure, you should start running your water immediately.

Hill says the weather is partly to blame for the problem. A cycle of warmer weather followed by extreme cold is driving frost deep into the ground.

“So we do need to be vigilant," she said. "We need to be sure that if you are running water, even if the sun is out and it’s a nice day, do not stop running your water.”

Hill said there us some concern that all that running water could cause an overflow at the sewage plant. To avoid that, the city is asking people to take shorter showers and do laundry in the early morning or late at night.

Since last Friday, the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA has been providing hot showers for people in need. YMCA Marketing Director Carolyn McKellar said you don’t have to be a member to come in and get one.

“It’s something that we felt was necessary for us to do here, being a community organization," said McKellar. "It’s important for people to be able to feel healthy and confident and clean so … we want to be able to give that to people when they’re in this type of situation.”

McKellar said the YMCA will continue to offer showers until there is no longer a need.