PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A massive water main break in North Philadelphia occurred just before 7 a.m. Thursday, near the intersection of 4th and Berks streets at West Hewson Street. Officials say a 20-inch main transmission broke. It is over 100 years old.
The water was successfully shut off, but not before flooding the street as well as the basements of some residents.
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Crews continue to pump thousands of gallons of water. With the water receding, we finally get a glimpse of the massive hole created by the ruptured water main.
Before looking out the window, Anna Outkin and her girlfriend tried to take a shower but no water came out.
“I was like, ‘Oh, our landlord forgot to pay the water bill.’ And we opened the windows and she said, ‘Anna, you have to get up.’ And it was completely flooded in. I think like a few feet of water,” Outkin said.
Seven basements were flooded and several cars were waterlogged, including Harry Herman’s SUV, which collapsed in the road.
“I was getting ready to go to work. I turned the corner and saw the water rising. I went back and the road gave way,” Herman said.
John DiGulio of Philadelphia Water says the broken transmission line dates from 1893.
“A hand from 1893 isn’t necessarily that old,” DiGulio said.
As she was leaving for her morning walk, Maria Orona says she saw how a small pothole started squirting out of the water in just 10 seconds.
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“Of course I was angry. I was upset because I called the water department on Monday,” Orona said.
That day, she says her house didn’t have enough water pressure. She says a worker came late Monday night and told her they would make a note to come back and check under the street.
“If we’re calling with a complaint, it’s because we’ve been here long enough to know when something’s wrong,” Orona said.
The Philadelphia Water Department said it was reviewing Orona’s phone call on Monday before commenting on its criticism.
According to Genesis, Orona’s daughter, they face tons of uncertainties.
“It all depends on the city now. We can’t do much. We can’t wash, I can’t wash my son’s bottles. He can’t take a shower tonight,” Genesis Agosto said.
Many pieces remain to be collected.
“The clothes that were in the basement, the winter clothes – gone. Water heater, gone. They don’t understand or realize because after that they go home. They take a shower, get get rid of all that. We went through this morning and we still have dirt on our feet and all that,” Agosto said.
Another resident who was uncomfortable talking on camera said his wife is an artist and her artwork, which was in the basement, is all ruined.
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CBS3’s Brandon Goldner and Siafa Lewis contributed to this report.