- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

It was a soggy Christmas for nine Prince George's County, Md. families in Upper Marlboro after two water mains burst yesterday morning and flooded their basements. Hours later, a third water main burst while work crews were still dealing with the earlier damage.
Another three dozen families spent most of Christmas Day with no water, gas or electricity, utility officials said.
The three eight-inch pipes gave way in the 4800, 4900 and 5000 block of Woodford Lane.
It was the fourth time in recent months that the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has sent crews to work on these lines, residents said.
Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Mark Brady said yesterday that firefighters cut off power to homes in the immediate area to prevent other damage.
Meanwhile, residents waded through soggy basements and tried to salvage what they could of their belongings and Christmas.
"It was a good thing there wasn't sewage," said Ronald Queen, whose basement held 10 inches of water at one point. "It could have been worse."
Michelle Queen, his wife, said she had vintage record albums and clothes stored in the basement and hoped they would survive. The Christmas presents were upstairs, she said.
Thankfully, this year isn't the Queens' turn to host Christmas for their families, Mrs. Queen said.
Other families on the same side of the block also had to eat their Christmas dinners elsewhere, since electricity and gas service wasn't expected to come back on until late evening.
"They told us it would take about six hours to restore," said Mr. Queen. "We'll see. Until then, we will find somewhere to hang out."
Outside, crews from the utility companies were drilling and trying to repair the mains.
"We are trying our best to get the water on," said Jerry Harley, a crew chief with the water utility. "We are just telling residents to be patient."
Repairs could take up to two days before things are back to normal, said Mr. Brady.
Two families have taken the water agency up on its offer to spend the night in a hotel.
Water-main breaks aren't unusual, particularly when pipes are old and temperatures drop in winter.
Last month, residents in a Northwest neighborhood were left without water after a 48-inch break sent a geyser shooting up 150 feet for an hour and a half, shattering car windows and closing flooded roads in Rock Creek Park.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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