Major Water Main Break In North Philadelphia Floods Basements, Damages Several Cars

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 that a 20-inch transmission main broke. It’s more than 100 years old.

The water was successfully shut off but not before flooding the street as well as some residents’ basements.

Crews are continuing to pump out thousands of gallons of water. With the water receding, we’re finally getting a look at the massive hole created by the water main break.

Before looking outside her window, Anna Outkin and her girlfriend tried to take a shower but no water was coming out.

“I was like, ‘Oh, our landlord forgot to pay the water bill.’ And we open up the windows and she was like, ‘Anna, you have to get up.’ And it was completely flooded. I think like a couple feet of water,” Outkin said.

Seven basements were flooded and several cars were waterlogged, including Harry Herman’s SUV, which collapsed into the road.

“I was getting ready to go to work. I turned the corner and I saw the water coming up. I went to back up and the road gave away,” Herman said.

Philadelphia Water’s John DiGulio says the broken transmission line is from 1893.

“A main from 1893 is not necessarily that old,” DiGulio said.

As she went for her morning walk, Maria Orona says she watched how a small pothole began gushing water in just 10 seconds.

“Of course, I was mad. I was upset because I had called the Water Department on Monday,” Orona said.

That day, she says her home wasn’t getting enough water pressure. She says a worker came late Monday night and told her they would make a note to come back and check underneath the street.

“If we call with a complaint, it’s because we’ve been here long enough to know when something is not right,” Orona said.

The Philadelphia Water Department says they are looking into Orona’s Monday phone call before commenting on her criticism.

According to Orona’s daughter Genesis, they are facing tons of uncertainty.

“It’s all on the city now. We can’t do but so much. We can’t wash up, I can’t wash my son’s bottles. He can’t take a shower tonight,” Genesis Agosto said.

Many pieces are left to pick up.

“Clothes that was in the basement, winter clothes — gone. Water boiler, gone. They don’t understand or realize because after this they go home. They take a shower, get all this off of them. We walked through this morning and we still got dirt on our feet and stuff,” Agosto said.

Another resident who wasn’t comfortable speaking on camera said that his wife is an artist and her artwork, which was in the basement, is all ruined.

CBS3’s Brandon Goldner and Siafa Lewis contributed to this report.