No heat in middle of deep freeze

While bundling up into a hefty winter coat was a given when venturing outside into frigid temperatures on Tuesday, some area residents were bundling up into blankets and coats inside their homes.

Nine residents on Wildwood Drive were left without heat due to a problem with Dominion East Ohio gas lines.

“On Wildwood, there is a situation where water has gotten into the main line,” said Neil Durbin, senior communications specialist for Dominion East Ohio.

One resident, Dale Herb, 64, said there was no heat from early on in the day.

“We have no heat and we have no hot water,” Herb said.

Herb said a call was made to Tropic Air because it was thought the problem was with the heater, not the gas. They quickly found out it was the latter.

“The gas company came very quickly,” Herb said, adding that one of the men came into the house and tried to get things running again. “They’re telling us the pressure is just too low.”

Another Wildwood resident, Lori Uhrig, 51, said her neighbors told them about the gas issues.

“I didn’t notice it this morning,” she said. “Then we went out for a bit. When we came back it was 65 (degrees) in here.”

Uhrig said she spent the day bundled up in blankets. Her husband was trying to get in touch with someone from Dominion.

“We’ll try to stay warm,” she said, of waiting for the issue to be fixed. “I’m not sure what (else) we’re supposed to in the meantime.”

Durbin said he expected the problem to be solved by Tuesday night.

Water freezing in gas lines isn’t that uncommon this time of year, he said.

If there’s a crack or leak in the line, water can seep down into it.

“It could be a leak in the line,” Durbin acknowledged. “What’s not a problem when it’s 50 degrees can become a problem when it’s 10 below zero.”

In order to curtail water freezing in lines, Durbin said there is something Dominion can do.

“They’ll be installing a drip,” he said. “It provides a place for any water to settle out. Then we can go out and drain the drip to ensure the line stays dry.”

Early Tuesday, Dominion East Ohio made an announcement that customers in Northeast Ohio should start to lower their usage because the demand for natural gas increases as the weather gets colder.

“We made that announcement through the entire system,” Durbin said, adding that it created a safety margin of what the company had to distribute and would prevent higher bills for customers. There was no actual shortage of gas, he said.

Herb said his son works for an oil and gas company and their natural gas wells are only producing at around 50 percent, which affects natural gas suppliers like Dominion.

No heat aside, Herb said he felt the company was doing the best it could.

“It’s an inconvenience, but they’re working diligently,” Herb said. “Nobody can prevent six below.”