Burst pipe floods Near North Side coffee shop

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A coffee shop in an historic building on Chicago's Near North Side was closed Monday morning after an employee found the coffee shop completely underwater.

The Coffee Shoppe in the lower level of 42 East Superior was filled with several feet of standing water inside due to a frozen pipe. It's just one of dozens of floods happening across the city as the weather warms up.

The coffee was still brewing at the Sunny Side Up restaurant upstairs from the Coffee Shoppe Monday afternoon, but the employees were wearing coats.

"My furnace was underwater so I have my heating and cooling guy here now," said Bryan Sord, owner of Sunny Side Up restaurant and Coffee Shoppe.

The Water Department said the problem has to do with a leak in the building due to a frozen sprinkler pipe that burst in the basement. Water to the entire block was shut off while repairs were made.

One of the biggest issues was finding of the source of the leak, which turned out to be a sprinkler pipe inside an ancient vault in the basement.

Commissioner Randy Conner of the Department of Water Management said familiarizing yourself with the main water shut off is key.

"Most people don't go in the crawl space, but I encourage you to take a chance and go see and look where that shut off is," said Conner.

Sord has a headache on his hands after waking up to find several feet of water inside his historic building, which dates all the way back to 1883.

Though the water was mostly gone Monday afternoon, his shop was covered in a thick layer of century-old sediment due to a frozen sprinkler pipe that ruptured in the basement.

But all day long, he's been staying positive.

"I'm sure I'll be back in business in a few hours-- oh I hear a pump going so that's good," said Sord.

Sord's call was one of dozens received by flood damage restoration companies like Brouwer Brothers Steamatic.

"Now that it's warming up, it's just beginning and it's probably going to get worse," said Rick Brouwer, owner of Brouwer Brothers Steamatic.

Crews have been working around the clock to fix water leaks.

Brouwer said that right now, most of his customers don't even realize that they have a problem.

"When it warms up, it's gonna be a problem and a lot of people are going to find out," he said.

The city has been busy, too. Since December 27, Commissioner Conner said they've received more than 1,700 calls for no water. They've gotten to about 1,600 of them, but that's not all.

"We've fixed 42 broken mains already since December 27th and we're working, as they come up we're working on them," said Conner.

He's pleading with residents to drip their faucets and open up their cabinets to allow warm air to circulate, because they don't want anyone to have to deal with damage if it can be avoided.

"We encourage people to keep the water running and if you see something in the street bubbling or running please dial 311 and we'll get someone to come out and take a look at it and figure out what the problem is to fix it," said Conner.

Another important tip: know how to shut off your water if there is a leak. Many residents have lost valuable time trying to locate the main switch.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.