SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ  – Things were back to normal at the South Plainfield PAL building on Monday morning after a three-day closure due to a burst pipe.

In the early hours of Jan. 4, Department of Public Works employee Tommy Zazzara discovered the gym floor covered in water and called fellow borough employee Angelo Paradiso to come shut off the valve. Borough Administrator Glenn Cullen was then contacted and SERVPRO, an emergency restoration company, and plumber Robert Hunt, who both arrived on site by 9 a.m.

Although it is unclear exactly what time the pipe broke, Recreation Director Kevin Hughes said video surveillance from the PAL shows water on the gym floor sometime around midnight. When he arrived at the PAL water had made its way from the back rooms next to the gym and onto the basketball court and had also begun to seep its way into the registration office.

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“The rough estimate was that there was somewhere around 1,000 gallons of water,” said Hughes.

According to Hughes, at some point last week, the baseboard heat that runs in the bathroom and storage rooms along the parking lot side of the building must have stopped working. Lack of heat in that area, he said, combined with the extremely low temperatures and high winds, caused the pipe to crack in several spots.

Hughes noted that had the problem not been discovered until he came in later that morning the damage would have been much worse. By then, he said, the water would have made its way completely into the recreation office and most likely into the lobby and other rooms within the building.

Crews with SERVPRO spent most of the day Thursday removing and extracting the water with remediation in the form of industrial-size fans and dehumidifiers. The PAL, which would not have been open last Thursday because of the blizzard, remained closed until around lunchtime Monday and by that evening everything was back to normal, with the gym used for practice that night.

“I was really impressed with the whole cleanup procedure,” he said.

The cost of the cleanup will be submitted through insurance. Additionally, other than cardboard boxes mostly filled with old forms and a few bases, neither the equipment nor the gym’s new floors were damaged.

“My first concern was that we were going to lose the basketball season, but when I called the flooring company they assured me that, from their perspective, it wasn't that big of a deal, that they’ve had floors have several feet of water on them,” said Hughes, “I went from absolute full panic mode when I walked in here at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning to relief after I got off the phone with the flooring company. Then it just became a matter of how long it would take to clean up.”

“Kevin and everyone involved did a wonderful job handling the issue. The response time and cleanup time was fantastic and there was limited down time with the PAL up and running by Monday,” said Councilwoman Christine Faustini, chair of the borough’s recreation committee. “Everyone reacted quickly and did a great job.”

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