August 26, 2011
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Hurricane Irene Elevating Potential for Flooding
CHESTER, VA – August 26, 2011 – The expected rain from Hurricane Irene has resulted in the potential for significant flooding throughout Columbia Gas of Virginia’s (Columbia) service area. Because of this flooding concern, Columbia advises its customers with the following tips on how to secure their natural gas meter and appliances.
If you notice a strong gas odor (similar to rotten eggs), or if there is other evidence of a natural gas leak, do not enter the premises.
If you smell the odor of gas inside, please leave immediately.
As a precaution, please do not smoke, make a spark or flame, switch the lights on/off or raise/lower the windows
From a safe location immediately call Columbia at 1-800-544-5606 and 911.
Stay nearby until a Columbia representative arrives, or leave a note on you door stating where you can be reached.
What to do in the event of a flood
Turn off electrical power to each appliance and leave it off.
Shut off the natural gas supply valve to the appliance (usually found on the natural gas line to the appliance). Do not attempt any further work until this has been done.
Any natural gas appliance that is removed must have the open end of the pipe leading from the valve to the appliance capped or plugged. This is to prevent the back flow of floodwater into the gas piping system. You can do this by using plugs or pipe caps available at hardware and plumbing supply stores.
If you are evacuating your premises, shut off your gas valve at the natural gas meter. You can turn your gas off at the main shut-off valve on the inlet pipe next to your natural gas meter. Using a wrench or other suitable tool, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction so that it is crosswise to the pipe.
How to Turn Off Your Gas Meter
In case of emergency:
You can turn your natural gas off at the main shut-off valve on the inlet pipe next to your natural gas meter.
Using a wrench or other suitable tool, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction so that it is crosswise to the pipe (see diagram).
Once the natural gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on. Only a certified technician can turn the natural gas on safely. Call Columbia to restore natural gas service. If leaking natural gas starts to burn, do not try to put the flame out. Vacate the premises and dial 911 and Columbia at 1- 800-544-5606.
What to do after a flood
If water levels were enough to cover the natural gas meter, call Columbia to check the natural gas meter and regulator. Floodwaters may have shifted your home or caused other stresses to the natural gas piping, possibly resulting in a natural gas leak. If you smell natural gas, immediately call Columbia at 1-800-544-5606 and 911.
As wet electrical wiring is extremely hazardous, ensure the main electrical supply is shut off. The appropriate jurisdictional inspector must inspect all electrical wiring in buildings that have been partially or fully covered by floodwater before being put into service again. Any loose wires should be considered "live" and a definite hazard.
If flooding has been severe, natural gas appliances should not be used until inspected by a licensed plumber or contractor. Qualified contractors can be found in the local telephone directory.
Do not attempt to place natural gas appliances back in service. A licensed plumber or contractor will check, clean, repair and pressure test all natural gas piping, which has been clogged with mud or debris. Damage could also occur to switches, controls, thermostats, furnace heat exchangers, burner and pilot parts and rusting metals parts, to name a few. Again, any reconditioning or repair work to natural gas appliances must be performed by a licensed plumber or contractor.
About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia, with headquarters in Chesterfield County, is one of the 7 energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI). Columbia Gas of Virginia serves more than 243,000 customers in portions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond, Central Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, the Lynchburg region and parts of Western Virginia. NiSource distribution companies serve 3.8 million gas and electric customers primarily in seven states. More information about Columbia Gas of Virginia is available at ColumbiaGasVa.com.