Community cleans up after main break floods West Philly block

A 130-year-old, 36-inchdiamater water pipe burst under 52nd Street in West Philly early Sunday morning flooding nearby blocks for hours.

The break occurred at 4:30 a.m. off 52nd Street and Wyalusing Avenueand was sealed up by 8 a.m, according to the Philadelphia Water Department.

But hours later the city was still cleaning up as neighbors were waiting to see whether their cars still ran and how much damage they had to deal with.

“It was a lake,” saidShawn Gordon, 40, a Wyalusing Avenue resident. Hesaid he discovered the flooding around 8 a.m. when he woke up to walk his dog and opened his door, only to find the water up his front steps to the door.

Allen Canty, 38, was one of many Wyalusing Ave residents with their car hoods open waiting for the engine to dry so he could test to see if it worked after being submerged in water. Without the car, he doesn’t know how he’ll get to his job as a truck driver in Chester, Pa.

The water also creached his basement steps and poured inside, ruining everything, he said.

He said city officials assured him they would help with reimbursements for damages to his car and to his home.

“They’re trying clean up as quickly as they can. They’re tryingto be helpful, but there’s only so much they can do,” he said.

More than 40 homes sustained water damage,said Water Department spokesman John DiGiulio. Residents did not lose water service, just water pressure, as the pipe that burst was a transmission pipe installed in 1885.

Philadelphia Gas Works employees were on site to ensure the safety of a gas line near the water pipe. Houses directly adjacent to the main pipe burst were evacuated during clean-up and the Red Cross was providing emergency shelter to any residents who needed it.

The cause of the water main break hadnot yet been determined as of 3 p.m., DiGiulio said.

City workers will be returning in the coming days to pump basements and assess any mold damages.

Harry James, 71, a resident at the Westminster Senior Apartments on 52nd Street, said a friend woke him up at 6:30 a.m.

“He said ‘The street is flooding.’ I came out and it was up to here,” James said, pointing to the top step outside his building.

At Smitty’s Mill Creek Bar at 52ndStreet and Wyalusing Ave.,water washed around the floor and entered the basement as well.

Bar manager Anita Lewis Nolton, 54, said the floodingbrought back memories of an even worse flood when a 48-inch water main burst on the same block in 2004. In that incident residents had to be evacuated on boats by emergency personnel.

Nolton recalled having first responders escort her out of Smitty’s, walking through water while balanced on a rope tied between two street signs.

“I have never been so scared in my life,” she recalled.

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