MIAMI (CBS4) - Miami-Dade Water and Sewer District estimates about 22 and half million gallons of water spilled into a neighborhood yesterday in a span of about two and half hours. Some perspective that’s four times what spilled in the BP oil spill in the gulf in 2010. Luckily it was just water in Little Haiti. Still the 36-inch water main, from the 1950s created quite the mess.
The break happened around 1p.m. Sunday in a fenced in area near NE 76 Street and 3rd Place.
Several residents in the area were flooded out of their homes but by Monday, the water had receded.
County employees went door-to-door Monday morning to let residents know they do not have to boil their water and that it is safe to return home.
When the water started gushing on Sunday, residents didn’t know what to do.
“It was like, almost to the sockets here,” explained Deryl Blankenship as she pointed at around her flooded kitchen. “All the cabinets, refrigerator, everything. Everything was just a lake. As soon as I opened the front door, it was Niagara Falls.”
The water overtook houses and anything else in its way. Blankenship saw his belongings floating in his apartment.
“Shoes were floating, anything. My carpet. My carpet I had to take outside, it was floating,” said Blankenship.
The water flowed for approximately two hours before Miami-Dade Water and Sewer could shut the pipe down.
Now they’re trying to figure out how to fix the mess.
The water came from an aging transmission line that carries fresh water to multiple distribution lines throughout the county.
The line is located under three tractor trailers. The break caused a 15 foot by 15 foot hole to open up underneath the trailers. Crews worried those trailers would slip deeper into the hole if they tried to move them. Late Monday cranes had been moved into place to lift the trailers out of the way. Only then could work begin to repair the damaged line.
While the county tries to get the pipe repaired the owner of the trailer seems a bit nervous.
“Sorry but I’ve got many things to do over here,” He told CBS4 as he rushed by. He rents the lot for his trailers but a check of the property appraisers site shows he was parked on Miami-Dade’s county’s side.
It’s unclear if he will foot the bill for the removal of his trailers or possibly the water line break which the trailers were parked on top of.
“Aging infrastructure is a national problem whether it’s utility lines, bridges, streets, so the department is actively and proactively evaluating our water lines,” said Jennifer Messemer, Water and Sewer’s spokeswoman.
Unfortunately the evaluations, which happen every nine months, don’t catch everything. Remarkably and despite having everything he owns soaked many residents said Monday they feel very lucky.
“It was lucky that there were no injuries. Personal wise. Material stuff can be replaced,” said Blankenship.
Miami-Dade County may actually have to pay for that ‘material stuff’ that was damaged or destroyed. The risk management staff is reaching out to homeowners affected by the county pipe break. If you are one of those people, call Risk Management at (305) 375-4280.