Niles flood victims assess damage

September 16, 2010 (NILES, Ill.)

It happened after midnight and caused damage to as many as dozen homes as well as numerous parked vehicles.

For Rommel Gayapa and several neighbors, a flooded engine means a dry bank account.

"I can't go to work. I won't be able to earn any living car no work," said Gayapa.

The water main near Dempster and Milwaukee burst around midnight, sending water spewing six feet into the air and down residential streets…

"It was a torrent, it was like rapids. My son called it one of the rides at Great America," sid Ronald Harris, Niles resident.

The water rose to the tops of car tires on Wisner Street and with this being garbage day, soggy soon became smelly.

"The garbage is everywhere, even in the alley ways in the back. It's all over the land, everywhere, and the water is up to my ankle," said Kia Davis, Niles resident.

"I was surprised because last night I went to bed so early, now it's all water," said Priyanka Patel, Niles resident, early this morning.

It took repair crews about three hours to stem the tide. By daybreak, the water had receded but it wasn't soon enough for Emanuel Issaghi who sustained water damage to his townhouse and his car.

"It was exactly like Katrina, like we're in Florida or somewhere hit by hurricane," said Issaghi.

As many as a dozen residences may have been flooded, though the amount of water appears minimal - perhaps an inch at most.

The cause of the four-foot rupture is still being determined.

"The material that's in the ground, acid, shifting of construction…a lot of things can factor in the wear and tear of the main," said Earl Salther, Niles Water Department manager.

Niles officials have distributed forms so flood victims can file damage claims with the village. But Rommel Gayapa wonders if he'll be reimbursed for missing work.

"Honestly, it feels bad. I don't know how will I get to work today," said Gayapa.

Work is expected to be done by the end of Thursday. Crews were replacing part of the burst pipe. No residential water service was affected.

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