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Water pipe bursts expected to get 'exponentially worse' as things start to thaw out

Plumbers say thawing at the end of the week will likely lead to more frozen pipes bursting in North Texas, but there are things you can do now to help prevent it.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Marie Wilbanks hasn’t had power for more than 24 hours and life in her frigid Fort Worth apartment got worse.

"They woke me up this morning saying that we were flooded," she said. "I was sitting in there just a minute ago and I was thinking, 'how can I get the rest of it out.'"

There was a half an inch of water covering her floors Wednesday, and she’s taking care of her granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

"I try so hard to give her and her baby a good place to live, and now all of this," Wilbanks said through tears.

She feels alone, but there are countless others across North Texas in the same situation. Water pipes have frozen, burst and flooded homes, apartments and businesses.

"Right now, it’s nonstop phone calls," said David Butler, the master plumber at Milestone. "The biggest thing that’s happened with this one was the power outages. I think we’d have been alright if we wouldn’t have had the power outages as bad."

Butler said they are making 150 runs a day right now and already booked through next Tuesday.

His best advice to those with frozen pipes is to turn off the water. If you can, keep trickling faucets to allow water to move. Most pipe issues are happening with water heaters in attics.

Before turning water back on, make sure someone is in the attic to listen for any odd sounds as it returns and if they hear any, shut down the water and get a plumber’s assistance.

"As it gets to freezing and above freezing, it’s just going to be exponentially worse," said Butler.

Dallas Water Utility said, as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, they had responded to more than 1,000 busted private pipes. Fort Worth has been dealing with hundreds of water main break issues since Sunday.

Wilbanks had just moved into a Crowley apartment two months ago.

"When I was accepted for this apartment, I was like, ‘Thank you Lord. It’s about time something gone good for me,'" she said, "And now this."

Texans are hurting now and as the cold ends, many will need help facing a new fight.

"I’m like, 'one more battle,'" Wilbanks said. "But I can make it. Because I been through so many."

But the risk for more pipe problems remains through Friday morning, with the National Weather Service issuing a hard freeze warning for most of North and Central Texas from 9 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday.

Texans should continue to keep their plumbing protected if possible.

RELATED: How to thaw pipes, or what to do if it already burst

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