Cleanup Underway After Water Main Break Floods Shopping Center In East Falls

By Anita Oh

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What a mess! The cleanup and frustration continued one day after a water main burst and sent six-million gallons of water gushing through a shopping center in Philadelphia’s East Falls neighborhood.

The 48-inch main broke Friday afternoon, flooding the parking lot of the Baker Center.

Bonita Jones says her car is likely ruined for good.

“I attempted to open the door and I could see the water just gushing through on both sides,” she said. “I’m devastated, but I thank God that I’m okay.”

The main is one of four underground that are more than a century old.

“If they already were replaced before, somebody messed up,” said Darrell Miller of East Falls.

As cars went under, crews went to work rescuing stranded shoppers.

“We ended up making about 60 rescues using boats,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel.

But more frustrating than damage, customers say, is the fact that this is the third water main break here in three years.

Before Friday, a main burst in 2014 – and most recently again in June 2015.

“They need to fix it and fix it right.”

“They are putting a Band-Aid on the problem. They are not fixing the problem.”

Water Commissioner Debra McCarty says officials are equally concerned.

“I understand that. I’m one of those folks,” she said. “We all are. I feel terrible.”

City officials say there is a plan in place to increase funding to eventually replace the entire main, but they say it will not be easy, quick, or cheap. They estimate it will likely cost millions of dollars.

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