Pilsen Water Main Cleanup Far From Over

The water has receded, but neighbors say they're not close to finishing the cleanup

By Stefan Holt and Lisa Balde
|  Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011  |  Updated 6:48 AM CDT
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Water Main Break Floods Pilsen

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Water Main Break Floods Pilsen

Gushing water turned city streets into rivers, even shutting down the intersection near 21st and Ashland as flooding rose up against cars on nearby streets and into Juarez High School's gymnasium.
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Roads remain closed and residents continue the daunting task of cleaning up damage from an 84-year-old water pipe that broke Monday in Pilsen.

The 36-inch water main near Benito Juarez High School ruptured around 8:30 p.m. Monday, sending water gushing into streets and basements. The hole in the 1927 cast-iron pipe was about three feet in diameter and caused quite a bit of damage.

Crews worked through the day Tuesday to get the pipe excavated and replaced and pump out the foot of water and mud covering the entire area. Last night, they lowered a new pipe into the gaping construction hole.

While the water has since receded, neighbors say they're not even close to finishing the cleanup.

"I was really sad, I really got emotional," said one woman who showed crews the wall stains from two feet of water in her basement.

Ald. Danny Solis sent staffers around the neighborhood handing out damage claim forms. They're also advising residents to work with insurance providers as soon as possible.
 
Aging infrastructure is being cited as a possible cause for the break. The Water Department says it has been working to replace pipes approaching 100 years old.

While this may be Pilsen's first big rupture, city officials say it likely won't be the city's last.

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