Water main break wreaks havoc in Queens

April 14, 2010 3:48:09 PM PDT
A large water main break flooded streets and basements in the Springfield Gardens section of Queens. Fire officials say the 12-inch main broke near the intersection of 140th Avenue and 159th Street just before 4:30 a.m. this morning.

Several blocks were flooded, with at least four feet of water reported in the streets.

Basements were flooded for blocks. Firefighters were going door to door, waking residents and telling them to move their cars.

Eurica McKenzie saw the water roaring straight into her home. It rose up to the 8 foot high basement ceiling, and then two feet higher to the room above.

"About 10 feet of water. We couldn't go down there or else we would drown. It moved tables, it moved everything. We have a freezer. It turned it over on the side," McKenzie said.

"I was almost in tears. You just don't expect it," Ruth Settles said.

Settles was about to close on a house. Now, with water pooling on her basement steps, the interior is waterlogged and ruined.

"It all has to be replaced," she said.

The trouble started in the middle of the night when a 12 inch water main from 1969 ruptured. Water gushed into streets, backyards and basements. DEP rushed to the scene and shut off the water. Firefighters then started pumping, but for some, everything was already gone.

"Right now, I need help I don't have a change of clothes or nothing right now. I need help," Elijah Phillips said.

Residents of several homes were evacuated. Other homes were left without power or water or both.

"My whole room is totally underwater, I lost everything. What I have on my back is all I have left," flood victim Paul Valiant said.

Now that firefighters have the pumps all rigged up, the water is finally making a fast exit. As to when things will actually be back to normal here, residents say they wish they knew.