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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gas leak on Columbia Pike disrupts preschool at Annandale church

Washington Gas crews repair the damage to a gas line on Columbia Pike.
Things are back to normal at Annandale United Methodist Church, but “yesterday was a nightmare,” said Diana Dzikiewicz, the church’s media specialist.

Construction workers accidentally damaged a gas line on Columbia Pike in the afternoon just before parents were scheduled to pick up their children from the preschool and early learning program. The construction involves a short segment of sidewalk along Columbia Pike next to the AUM property.

“People started smelling gas. It was really strong,” said Cherrie Welch, director of the weekday preschool and early learning programs at AUMC.

“Fire trucks and parents were arriving at the same time,” Welch said. The fire department closed portions of Columbia Pike and Evergreen Lane, creating traffic backups.

 “The fire chief was debating whether to close the building and keep everyone inside, even parents who had arrived already to pick up their children.  I thought we should get everyone as far away as possible,” she said. So the Fire Department agreed to let everyone leave and directed parents to exit on Alpine Drive.

Parents of children of about 75 children in the extended-day program and child development center were called and asked to pick them up early. People didn’t know about the alternative ways to access the building, so there was a lot of confusion.

The building didn’t have hot water or heat early this morning, so the preschool programs had a delayed opening.


  1. Important to note that this is a Fairfax County construction project, not an AUM construction project. Did the county call Miss Utility?

  2. So we already have a community center in Annandale and a place to store all those unwanted children who won't fit in our schools. Why do we have to gut the library for space to warehouse children?

    Libraries are for books and if there are no books, we won't be funding any libraries.

  3. wait, they are actually filling the gap in the sidewalk there? Yay!

  4. I would just like to note how efficient and effective the Annandale Fire Dept. was throughout the entire ordeal. The health and safety of the children, their parents, and our teachers and staff were their number one priority at all times.

    Cherrie S. Welch

  5. Unwanted children? This is not some huge daycare program for parents who have to work. It is not an elementary age before and after school care program. It's preschool, where very young children go to play with others of their same age and learn the skills that they will need to succeed in school when they are old enough. The parents are very much involved in their lives and send them there because they care about them. I am not involved in this program, but teach at another similar preschool and I can assure you, the children whose parents can afford to send them and care enough to do so are very fortunate indeed!

  6. That person seems to be misguided in numerous ways. I think he was intending to comment on some other article. In any case, his comment was deplorable.