Volume 22, Number 14 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Aug. 14 - 20, 2009

Water main floods W. Broadway

After 140 years, the foot-long water main that resided at the intersection of West Broadway and Duane St. finally had its fill, bursting for the first time since 1870 at 2:30 a.m. last Friday. The break caused flooding in15 residential and office buildings, several of which were promptly evacuated.

Although many were stuck standing on the sidewalk during the wee morning hours, others in the neighborhood didn’t even know about the incident until they saw it on the news.

“I just had to walk an extra block out of the way. They got it fixed really quickly,” said Annouchka Engel, who lives on Murray St. and West Broadway. “This morning there was water everywhere, and now it’s almost all cleared up.”

Local businesses, however, were instantly faced with devastating, unavoidable damages.

“The majority of our stock is damaged, as well as a lot of our electronic equipment, but the city is going to compensate us,” said Dajuah Morgan, assistant manager of the American Apparel store at 140 West Broadway. Once the basement had filled with water, as much as $50,000 worth of merchandise was badly damaged, but she predicted that the store would re-open again early that evening.

The telecommunication building at 60 Hudson St., a longtime concern among residents because of its diesel fuel storage, experienced several feet of flooding in the basement.

The repairs shut down West Broadway from Reade St. to Worth St., Thomas St. and Duane St., and Church St. from Worth St. to Reade Street, but by around 2 p.m., almost every street had been reopened, tenants were allowed back into their buildings, restaurants were serving, and traffic was flowing.

“It happens in every city,” said Michael Saucier, spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection, noting that the department spends $20-30 million each year replacing old watermains before they break. As he watched the dozens of Con-Ed workers milling about West Broadway, Saucier astutely resolved, “You can’t get to them all, though.”

— Helaina N. Hovitz



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