At least five people had to be rescued from their homes as a massive water main break sent water gushing onto streets and into basements over several blocks in a Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood Wednesday.
The five people were taken to SEPTA buses to to temporarily shelter from the cold, with temperatures in the upper-20 degrees shortly before 8 a.m., a deputy fire chief on the scene said.
Water started pouring from the area around South 56th Street and Springfield Avenue in the Kingsessing neighborhood after 6 a.m. The Philadelphia Water Department said it was a 48-inch transmission main break.
Get Philly local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Philadelphia newsletters.
The pipe appeared to have burst underneath a large slab of concrete, which could be seen sticking up from the ground.
Firefighters helped an elderly man walk through a street as water flowed and posed the danger of sweeping people off their feet. Children and a school bus also tried to get through and around the water on their way to class.
The water swamped cars and homes, covering about 12 blocks. More than a dozen public schools in the area switched to virtual learning for the day.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Some people could be seen coming out onto their porches as water went into the basements. At least one person was seen driving away from the scene.
Kenwyn Breakenridge's basement flooded, and she told NBC10 she was worried it could affect the foundation of her house.
Dray Young said he went out on his porch, saw the water, and went back inside so he could put trash bags on his feet and get his morning coffee, walking around five blocks through the water.
"Came out this morning, seen all this water and started improvising, you know. First I thought the little bags, but the little bags – the water gonna rip them straight off your feet. So I got some industry construction bags, man," Ray said.
The gas company was also inspecting the area to make sure there were no leaks, though workers would have to wait until the water receded to fully shut off the gas from affected home, the deputy fire chief said.
Workers had drained almost all the water out by around noon. Wednesday night, workers began making repairs to the water main. A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Water Department told NBC10 it could take weeks or even months to fix the transmission line.
No injuries were reported.