Water Main Break Causes Sinkhole in West Philadelphia - NBC 10 Philadelphia
NBC10 First Alert Severe Weather Central

NBC10 First Alert Severe Weather Central

Water Main Break Causes Sinkhole in West Philadelphia

10 water main breaks are active across the city, officials say



    The rapid change in temperatures has caused a series of water main breaks across Philadelphia. In the worst break, the street crumbled almost swallowing up a trash truck. (Published Friday, Feb. 21, 2014)

    The temperature warm-up and snow meltdown may have contributed to a string of water main breaks across the City of Philadelphia on Friday.

    The largest of 10 active water main breaks in the city occurred on the 1300 block of N. Wanamaker St. in West Philadelphia, where a sinkhole opened up on a flooded street, nearly swallowing a city garbage truck.

    "I could feel the pipes rumbling beneath my feet and the ground shaking," resident Zahir Yancey said as he described the moments before the hole opened up.

    "It looks like a cave. I've never seen anything like that in my life, it's absurd," he said.

    Gladys Holliday, who also lives on the block, says she saw the entire incident unfold.

    "This morning around six you could hear the water running down the street and then it's like, with little creases, you could see the water coming up," she said.

    "He (the garbage truck driver) got right here and then boom, he went down, water came gooshing out and the man jumped out. It seems like the truck was sinking down more and more."

    NBC10 was on the scene as tow vehicles came to pull the garbage truck from the street, leaving a gaping hole of crumbled asphalt, mud and water.

    Several residents have been left without water or gas while the break is being repaired.

    "The gas company came and shut off our gas to make sure everything wouldn't blow up. Our gas is off, water off, it's cold. We don't really have too many places to go," Yancey said.

    The man says he and neighbors tried to warn the city something bad was going to happen. He says they called 911 and 311 several times since yesterday. The city did respond to turn off  the water, but that came after the road caved.

    A city spokesperson said they didn't get the first complaint until 8 a.m. on Friday.

    According to residents, this is the second water main break that they've seen on their street this winter.

    A Philadelphia Water Department spokesperson says crews have responded to 300 water main breaks across the city since January 1, 2014. Officials say crews are working overtime and that the extreme cold has caused the numbers to jump.