Friday, January 14, 2000

Water break leaves bus-size crater in street




BY JOHN AFFLECK
The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Thousands of homes and businesses had to boil drinking water Thursday and schools closed after a water main rupture that left a crater large enough to bury a bus in one of the city's busiest streets.

        The old 36-inch pipe burst Wednesday evening on East Ninth Street, which runs between two Cleveland landmarks — the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Jacobs Field.

        No injuries were reported, but the force of the water caused another, unconnected 6-inch main to break and sent 25 million gallons of water shooting through downtown streets.

        A thick geyser bubbled up from the pipes for three hours before city workers got the breaks under control. The rush of water washed away the road and sent fast-flowing streams of knee-deep cold water down side streets.

        Water flowed to the doorsteps of several businesses and filled the basement of a building with 4 feet of water.

        Despite high winds and wind chill that made the low 20s temperatures feel near zero Thursday, workers laid a utility pole flat on the ground and attached it with ropes and chains to the broken pipe. The idea was to secure the pipe so it did not sink farther into the softened ground beneath it.

        City officials did not know how much repairs would cost or who would pay for damage to buildings near the break. Asked what he thought caused the main to burst, Mayor Michael R. White said: “It's a 1913 main. It's old.”

        By early Thursday, water had been restored to the approximately 100,000 people who lost pressure.

        But a boil-water order was in place until 11 p.m. for people who live downtown and in several adjacent neighborhoods. Downtown restaurants would not serve tap water at lunch Thursday afternoon.

        All Cleveland public and parochial schools, as well as Cleveland State University, were closed to ensure that no one would be exposed to unhealthful water.

        East Ninth Street will not be open to traffic until next week.

       



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