Bucktown water main break gushes for hours with tree in way

April 16, 2014 (CHICAGO)

The water flowed for several hours, flooding backyards and basements in the 1900 block of West Armitage.

It is impressive how much can get done in a short period of time. The broken main has been capped and flooding in the street has receded. But it took some time for the work to get underway.

"I placed a call at 4 a.m. this morning, as soon as I heard the water gushing," said Gloria Barrientos. "I looked out the window because I thought it was raining and I called immediately. I've been calling ever since and four hours later this is when they show up."

Barrientos and her sister have been frantically trying to minimize the damage from flooding but had little success with nobody around to cut the supply to a water main that had burst.

Neighbors say the area has had a slow leak for days and that they reported to the water department, but the city didn't come out until Tuesday.

"There was a leak on an eight-inch water main (Tuesday) night. Crews started to dig on it. It wound up that the break was underneath a tree," said Bill Bresnahan, Department Managing Deputy Commissioner.

They blocked the area off overnight planning to return Wednesday morning, but the main broke before dawn.

"I asked them why it took them so long and they said that they had just gotten the call," Barrientos said.

"The first call that we are aware of that we received was at about six o'clock (Wednesday) morning," said Bresnahan. "We got crews out here as quickly as we could bearing in mind we were changing shifts at that time too."

Work went slowly as water crews had to wait until the tree blocking the broken main was cut down.

About a block of Armitage is without water. It should be restored sometime later Wednesday afternoon.

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