Thursday, May 7, 2009

Residents along a portion of Florida Avenue in the busy Adams Morgan neighborhood woke up Wednesday morning trying to keep their heads above water after a break in a 20-inch water main flooded homes, blocked traffic and caused at least one business to lose water service.

Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said repairs will continue through the next few days, and Florida Avenue in Northwest will likely be closed for the Thursday morning rush.

“It looks like Florida is going to require pretty extensive restoration, so I would avoid that route if possible,” Mr. Lisle said.

The incident occurred just before 7 a.m. Wednesday at Florida and V streets, when the main burst and sent water in every direction.

“I woke up and saw water was on the street and on the sidewalk. It was everywhere. It looked like a fast-running river flowing down the street,” said Joseph Currie, 44, a musician who lives on the 1700 block of V Street. “Water was right up to your knees, I wouldn’t want to have gone in that.”

D.C. firefighters who were called to the scene spread out along an eight-block radius of the water main, knocking on doors and evacuating flooded homes.

“I heard a knock at the door at around 7:30 a.m., and a firefighter was standing right there with all this water at his feet asking, ‘Do you need help?’ ” Mr. Currie said.

Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Crosswhite said at least six homes and two businesses were evacuated and pumped of water.

Traffic was blocked for repairs during the morning and afternoon on a 2 1/2 block stretch along Florida Avenue, from 17th to California streets.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time in terms of traffic. It was right there during the morning rush hour and the road was completely impassable,” Chief Crosswhite said.

D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) spokeswoman Pamela Mooring said a moving and storage company was without water service while other customers continued to get water because WASA had switched them to other lines.

Full water service was restored by the afternoon, Chief Crosswhite said.

Officials said they would not be able to determine what caused the water main break until an excavation of the area was completed Wednesday night.

“We really won’t know what we’re dealing with until we get down there and see for ourselves,” Miss Mooring said.

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