Gallons upon gallons of water rushed into homes in North Park early Thursday morning after a water main broke in the neighborhood, leaving behind a huge, wet mess.
The water rapidly made its way down staircases, streets and into homes. Brooms and buckets in hand, residents scooped water out of their homes, trying to prevent the flooding.
“I woke up to a strange noise and I saw the local authorities with their lights flashing,” resident Joe Carta told NBC 7. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. This water that’s rushing right down there is rushing down the street and into the bottom floor of my house and into my garage.”
"Nobody wants to see a stream of water running into the bottom floor of their house," Carta added. "Nobody."
Arian Collins, spokesperson with the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, said a cast iron water main – 30 inches in diameter – broke early Thursday near the intersection of Polk and Oregon streets.
A crew with the department shut down the water at around 5:30 a.m. Collins said the main is not connected to water meters, so no customers in that area will be without water. Some residents may experience low water pressure for the time being.
Collins said some homes in the area sustained flood damage but that damage was till being assessed hours later. He said property owners impacted by the water main can file a claim with the City’s Risk Management Department via the city’s website or by calling (619) 236-7300.
For residents like Carta, the clean up will be a huge undertaking.
"I have to start thinking about how to get the clean up done and getting the water removed," he lamented, adding that he worries about mold and other problems that could arise from the flooding to his property.
Officials do not yet know how long it will take to complete repairs in the neighborhood. For now, drivers are advised to avoid the area. As of 6 a.m., several streets were closed due to the water main break: Idaho Street between University Avenue and Polk Street; University Avenue between Idaho and Arizona streets; Lincoln Avenue between Idaho and Hamilton streets.
No injuries were reported. The Red Cross and its Disaster Services team was at the scene helping residents displaced by the flooding.
The Red Cross set up a command center for victims of the flooding at Oregon Street and Howard Avenue. Also, the North Park Rec Center on Idaho Street was serving as a temporary evacuation point for those forced to leave their homes due to the flooding.
Julio Canizal, director of the City of San Diego’s Risk Management Department, told NBC 7 the department sent three claims representatives out to North Park Thursday to speak with residents and business owners impacted by the water main break. The city’s contractor was also dispatched to the area to help assess the extent of the damage to properties.
The city’s Risk Management Department was answering phone calls throughout the day from residents impacted by the flooding, too, Canizal said. At this point, he said those impacted by the water main break should document the extent of their damages and contact the department for information about the claims process.