Sunset Park

Sporadic water outages will continue for Sunset Park residents after water main break

November 25, 2019 Lore Croghan
Work crews are busy on Monday at the scene of a water main break at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street in Sunset Park.

Fifty Sunset Park families whose water remains shut off Monday morning following a mammoth water main break should have their service restored by 10:30 a.m., state Assemblymember Felix Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle.

On Monday morning, Ortiz was visiting the scene of the water main break that occurred on Sunday.

The rupture, which sent a geyser of water into the air, has left enormous holes in the street on Fifth Avenue at the corner of 44th Street.

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They are roped off with crime scene tape as workers toil.

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, at left, is on the scene Monday at the site of a water main break at Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Ortiz told the Eagle that the city Department of Environmental Protection gave him the promising news about the resumption of water service for the families, whose homes are on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 44th and 45th streets.

But this does not mean the end of water woes for Sunset Park residents on blocks near the broken water main. The DEP informed Ortiz that work to repair the water main pipe will continue for several days. During that time, 300 residents of Fifth Avenue between 36th and 44th streets will experience sporadic water outages, he said.

This hole was caused by the water main break at Fifth Avenue and the corner of 44th Street. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
This hole was caused by the water main break at Fifth Avenue and the corner of 44th Street. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

The Eagle asked Ortiz what caused Sunday’s water main break.

“This pipe has been here a long time,” Ortiz said.

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When contacted for comment, a DEP spokesperson told the Eagle that, as of 10 a.m., water service had been restored to all homes and businesses.

“[The] broken section of [the] main will be examined at DEP facility to try to determine the cause,” the rep said.

At El Rancho Nuevo Supermarket on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, butcher Nelson Hernandez had a front-row seat when the water main broke on Sunday.

“It sounded like a waterfall,” he told the Eagle. Hernandez shot the video that is embedded in this story.

After water service was cut off at the market on Sunday, the butcher couldn’t clean and prep the meat and poultry to sell. El Rancho Nuevo Supermarket, which normally stays open until 9 p.m. on Sundays, closed at 6 p.m. because the water was still off at that time.

Nelson Hernandez is a butcher at El Rancho Nuevo Supermarket. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Nelson Hernandez is a butcher at El Rancho Nuevo Supermarket. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

On Monday, Hernandez had a sink full of dirty dishes left over from the day before. And the water that was coming out of the taps on Monday was dirty, so the workers at the store weren’t using it.

“We’re washing our hands with bottled water. It’s wasteful,” he said.

At Dulce Imagen Salon, a few storefronts down from the water main rupture, water service was suspended around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and wasn’t turned back on until the middle of Monday morning.

“We worked on Sunday, but it was difficult,” hair-salon owner Nieves Hernandez (who’s not related to Nelson Hernandez) told the Eagle in Spanish.

Nieves Hernandez owns Dulce Imagen Salon. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Nieves Hernandez owns Dulce Imagen Salon. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Three clients had appointments to get their hair colored, but the salon had to cancel two of them because it only had enough bottled water to wash one client’s hair.

“I lost money yesterday,” Kaid Alomari, the owner of Azzan Deli Grocery, told the Eagle on Monday. “Who will repay me?”

After water service was shut off on Sunday at his shop, which is just down the block from the site of the water main break, he didn’t have water for coffee. Customer traffic slowed down to a trickle.

Water service was also shut off on Sunday in the building where he and his family live, which is across the street from his shop. It was restored in both places on Monday.

Kaid Alomari says his shop, Azzan Deli Grocery, lost money the day of the water-main break. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Kaid Alomari says his shop, Azzan Deli Grocery, lost money the day of the water main break. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Antonia Adorno, a retiree who lives in an apartment right near the site of the water main break, was awakened on Sunday by the sound of the water erupting out of the street.

“I looked out the window — and my God! It was like an explosion,” she told the Eagle in Spanish. “The street shook.”’

Water service was suspended in her building from Sunday until Monday morning. Adorno bought a gallon of bottled water to get through the day. When the water was turned back on in her building, she was so pleased.

“I am going to go clean now,” she said. Because of the water-service suspension, she wasn’t able to clean her home on Sunday.

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who was visiting impacted Fifth Avenue constituents on Monday, told the Eagle the emergency response to the water main break was praiseworthy.

Police officers were on the scene immediately, he said. NYPD’s auxiliary police officers went door-to-door to let people know help was available if needed. And members of the city’s volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program visited residents on Sunday night and made sure everybody had bottled water.

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca checked in on his Fifth Avenue constituents on Monday. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca checked in on his Fifth Avenue constituents on Monday. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

Menchaca offered advice about how to deal with the dirty-looking water that’s coming out of the faucets after service is restored. Residents should leave the water running for several minutes. People with washing machines should leave them empty and run the rinse cycle.

The water looks dirty because when the water main’s iron pipes are disturbed, they release particles, he said.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

Update (4:30 p.m.): This story was updated with additional reporting.


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