Cleanup continues after water main break floods East Falls shopping center

ByBob Brooks WPVI logo
Sunday, November 6, 2016
VIDEO: Water main break folo
Action News was there Saturday as restoration crews cleaned out businesses, and washed the parking lot.

HUNTING PARK (WPVI) -- One day after a 48-inch water main broke in the parking lot of a shopping center in East Falls, flooding some businesses and leaving shoppers stranded, crews got to work trying to clean up the mess.

Action News was there Saturday as restoration crews cleaned out businesses, and washed the parking lot.

Chopper 6 was over the scene just before 4:30 p.m. on the 3400 block of Fox Street as a gusher of water poured out of the parking lot in a shopping center near a ShopRite supermarket.

It quickly turned the lot into a river.

Kecia Vasquez had to evacuate ShopRite to safety.

"I fell. It was cold. I had to walk cause SEPTA wasn't running, and I had loaned out my car, so I had to walk all the way home. I was drenched. It was so cold," said Vasquez.

At first glance from the air, it looked like a body floating in the water, but it turned out to be a mannequin that got washed out of one of the stores.

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A water main broke at a shopping center in East Falls on Friday, November 4.

Sherri Williams was shopping inside Ross.

"Someone started screaming like, 'The water! The water!' " said Williams of Mount Airy.

Ross is now closed.

Soon, fire rescue crews could be seen using rafts to get people to safety.

"We ended up rescuing or moving across the water about 75 people, sheltered another 150 people in various locations throughout the shopping center," said Philadelphia Fire Department Commissioner Adam Thiel.

A water main break flooded a shopping center in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.

One woman we spoke with says she knows someone who was trapped in their car, and may have drowned if it weren't for a quick response.

"They carried her. Threw her over her their shoulders, and carried her out. She was trapped inside. Yes," said Valerie of Tioga.

The Philadelphia Water Department says this is the fourth water main break at this location since January 2014.

"The valves were not fully open because we wanted to be able to get a quicker shut. It's 100-plus turns (to shut the valve off)," said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Debra McCurdy.

By the time they shut it off, officials estimate 6 million gallons of water had spewed out causing roughly $500,000 worth of damage to businesses and people's cars.

Where the pipe burst has created this massive sinkhole. The huge mess is it not going to be easy to fix.

Now upset neighbors are hoping for a final solution.

"I think it's the water department not doing something properly cause that hole was like that for months, months and months from the last one," said Valerie.

And some customers think it may be time to find another place to shop.

"This place is cursed, I'm gonna tell you right now," said a ShopRite customer.