By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Water department crews have finished repairs at a busy Northeast Philadelphia intersection that was the site of a massive water main break in December. After four months of cleaning up, insurance claims and traffic headaches, business owners say they’re relieved as they still try to recover from the damage.
It was Wednesday evening around the area of Frankford and Torresdale Avenues. Dan Kelly, who owns a car dealership with his son, knew something was different.
“I was wondering why there was no traffic sitting out front! Everything’s flowing,” he said from his office on Torresdale. The Philadelphia Water Department had just announced they finished their work in the area and at 3 p.m. Wednesday the road was completely open to travelers. A century-old 48-inch water main broke two days before Christmas, December 23, flooding the intersection with 23 million gallons of water.
“It was like a river. It just gushed on everything. It was crazy. I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life. I thought I was at Niagara Falls!” Kelly said.
On that same morning, Nana’s Day Care on Frankford Avenue was right in the middle of it all.
“It was shocking at first. I was sitting here behind the desk and I saw water come from one side of the pavement all the way to the playground,” recalled Madeline McClain, supervisor at the daycare center .
“We had approximately 50 kids at the time but we did a good evacuation,” she said Wednesday. All of the children got out safely as the water rushed through the building.
“We had to shutdown operations. We had no business – no children,” McClain said. At the same time Kelly and his crew were able to save 40 cars from water damage but had to send 23 to the junkyard.
“Once they’re damaged by water they’re no good,” Kelly said. He described the claims process as “horrible.”
“We had to deal with the insurance company that led us to believe they were going to pay. Then they said it wasn’t a natural flood – that it was the water department’s fault. The insurance company denied my claim,” he explained.
Kelly’s business, Nana’s and a number of others that were damaged have been working with Philadelphia Water Department claims adjusters and Philadelphia’s Risk Management Office according to water department spokesman John DiGiulio.
Now, with the work finished and traffic finally flowing at Frankford and Torresdale, Nana’s, a gas station, a pizza shop and a few car dealerships like Kelly’s are trying to get back to business as usual.
“It definitely hurt business in the neighborhood and traffic was bad but it’s one of those things that happen. The water main was over 100 years old!” Kelly said. “It was pretty crazy but I’m glad it’s over. Hopefully the city pays us!”