2 water main breaks disrupt service in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - July 16, 2013

In Northeast Philadelphia, a busted 8-inch main at Fordham Road sent water spewing out of the sidewalk, down Academy Road and into a half dozen homes.

"I wasn't home when it happened," said Maria Oktay. "My boyfriend was, and he called me. By the time I thought of the sandbags it was too late. He said it happened so fast. Because my neighbor had sandbags from the last storm ready."

Maria Oktay's newly installed hardwood floors are now waterlogged.

Her neighbors tried to minimize the damage by clearing drains. It's a drill they know well.

They say it's the second time in recent years a broken water main has flooded their homes.

Danielle Coyle's garage and basement took on 3-4 inches of water. She worries about the belongings that are irreplaceable.

"Sentimental stuff like my grandmother's Christmas decorations," she said. "That's what I can't replace."

Water was restored to homes in the area within an hour. The Philadelphia Water Dept. says it's unclear if weather played a role in the break.

But across town in West Philadelphia, officials say an illegally opened hydrant likely created pressure that busted a water main at 52nd and Locust.

It backed up traffic beginning at 11:30 a.m., but the damage appears minimal.

"When you open a hydrant illegally, you run the risk of bodily harm, possibly death, property damage and situations like this, where you have a water main break and people on the block with no water," said John DiGiulio of the Philadelphia Water Department.

The water dept did bring in restoration companies to help homeowners with the cleanup. And residents say they've been reimbursed for any damage in the past.

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