As if it weren’t hectic, and wet enough on the day before Christmas Eve.
On Dec. 23, a 48-inch water main burst at 8:50 a.m. at Frankford and Torresdale avenues in Frankford. By the time the Philadelphia Water Department identified the exact location of the break and shut off water flow at around 9:30, three nearby businesses including a daycare had been evacuated, six residents were relocated, 38 schools were closed and 19 businesses were without electricity.
According to officials, the water department reacted as soon as its workers were alerted to a problem with water pressure, and that there were no indications before the actual break that something would go wrong.
“[The water department] knew about it before anyone else did,” Mayor Michael Nutter said during a news conference later that day.
The cast-iron pipe, built in 1907 and positioned 20 feet below the ground, channeled 150 million gallons of water to far-reaching neighborhoods from the Art Museum area to Bridesburg to Lawncrest.
“Age is obviously a factor, even if the pipe was in perfect condition,” Water Department Commissioner Howard Neukrug said at the site that day.
The city’s water, fire and police departments, along with the U.S. Coast Guard worked in the wind and rain to contain and manage the three to five feet of water that flooded the intersection.
Neukrug commended the “great crews” on site, recognizing all the departments working together. As the cleanup continues, the next step, he said, would be for inspectors and adjusters to work with local businesses to assess damage.
One local business, Nana’s Daycare, is almost directly on top of the damaged pipe.
“We heard an explosion in the middle of the street, and then water rising really fast and really high,” said Lisa Taylor, coordinator for Nana’s Daycare.
Taylor said the 14 staff members quickly evacuated 44 children to the former Northeast Catholic High School across the street and later to another daycare location nearby.
“My staff was great. The kids didn’t even know what was going on,” Taylor said. ••