Frozen pipes wreaked havoc in Haviland during recent winter blast

Hannah Brown
Kiowa County Signal
Frozen pipes, caused by record low temperatures that hit Kiowa County last week, created havoc in Haviland at the elementary school and also at a local business, Lela’s Bakery and Coffeehouse.

Like most of the country, Kiowa County residents weathered a nasty winter storm with some record breaking temperatures. For some people in the county, this caused problems with their water supply. 

“Last week was awful! We had two significant leaks,” said Haviland Mayor Aaron Stokes.

One leak was at Haviland Grade School. A pipe which provided water to the sprinklers burst, and to add to the already difficult situation, no one could find the leak for awhile, causing a lot of water to leak. Stokes said the water was pooling by the back of the football field at HGS, which made it difficult to locate. 

Stokes said the problem was solved by shutting the water off and patching the pipe. Those helping get the problem under control at Haviland Grade School included Neill and Kay Unruh, Dan Woods, Oscar Ebert, Michelle West, Aaron Stokes and Rob Rose.

“These people dropped what they were doing and jumped into action,” said a Facebook post on the Haviland Grade School page. “The problem has been fixed because these people worked sacrificially for our school. Thanks again!!”

The second was a leak on Lawrence St, where a tree root had grown around one of the main water lines. The cold weather increased the pressure in the pipe, which caused it to crack. The root had to be cut away from the pipe before it could be fixed. 

Stokes said about half of the town’s water was shut off for an afternoon to make the repairs. 

“Our people did a great job responding to these events and working in horrible circumstances to fix things quickly,” said Stokes. 

Lela’s Bakery and Coffeehouse on Main Street was without water all last week due to the frigid temperatures.

Owner, Madi Schneider, was hoping to be open on Saturday after the warmer temperatures later in the week. 

“I had taken precautions throughout the cold spell, but this building is over 100 years old and some places aren’t very insulated,” said Schneider. “I had been checking to see if I had water and checking my basement for leaks every day.”

Schneider said she considered herself lucky that frozen pipes were her biggest problem until Saturday when she discovered a flooded basement in her coffeeshop, with water as high as two feet in some places. 

A pipe in the basement next door had broken causing large amounts of water in both places. Thanks to assistance from community members, Schneider was able to get the space cleaned up and opened for business again on Tuesday, February 23.