Jerome Avenue businesses were left out to dry after a major water supply pipe burst in Mount Hope.
For many, the work day had yet to begin, but at around 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 27, the water main near the corner of Jerome Avenue and East 177th Street exploded, leaving a stretch of Jerome Avenue under at least two-feet of water through the morning rush hour.
The water main, built in 1903, gushed thousands of gallons of water and quickly turned nearby streets into a raging river. Public transportation was disrupted, cars quickly submerged, local businesses were stuck with flooded storefronts and basements, and two nearby gas mains were damaged.
Employees of Tremont Electric Supply Wholesale Distributors on 1785 Jerome Avenue were tirelessly sweeping water and mud off of the sidewalk, while others were attempting to pump out hundreds of gallons of water out of the building’s basement.
“Lets see if the city takes fault for this one,” said owner Barry Benson, whose seven-foot-high basement was filled to the ceiling with water. “We had a problem a few years ago and it took two years to settle with the city. This is real bad though.”
Officials say the water flow was capped at approximately 9:20 a.m., but after nearly three hours of gushing water, countless Jerome Avenue businesses were destroyed, and many local homes were left without natural gas.
The intersection of Jerome Avenue and East 177th Street was completely blocked-off from pedestrian access as Con-Ed workers attempted to patch-up the 40-by-46-foot crater created by the failed pipe.
“One of our drivers called in and told us to come outside because a wall of water was just coming down fast,” said Hector Eleutiza of Tremont Electric Supply. “Before we knew it, we just saw this red car coming down the street like a boat and it plopped right up on the sidewalk in front of us.”
Rob Parikh was stuck in traffic on the Cross Brox Expressway wondering why he couldn’t get off the Jerome Avenue exit for over an hour. Then he got the call around 8 a.m. His store, Jerome Drugs on 1788 Jerome Avenue, was completely submerged.
“I hadn’t heard anything yet and then one of my workers called me,” Parikh said as he swept water from his store into the streets. “This is a lot of damage, a lot was lost. We have a large stock in our basement, but we can’t even get down there.”
Many local business remained opened through the day, mainly to salvage whatever they could from the damage. The No. 4 train was suspended between East 167th Street and Bedford Park Boulevard for most of the day.
As of Monday, August 1, many local residents were still without gas, and Con Ed was working around the clock to restore service.