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Water finally shut off following Belleville water main break, mayor says

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Water service begins to come back for residents in Belleville and Newark
Water service begins to come back for residents in Belleville and Newark 02:30

BELLEVILLE, N.J. -- Utility crews are working to restore a water main which broke Tuesday morning, leaving more than 100,000 people without water in the heat.

Workers were at it throughout the day, trying to restore full water pressure for everyone affected before Wednesday morning.

In Belleville, crews finished loading up people's cars with cases of free water bottles. It's what thousands of people in the area are relying on to get through the night, CBS2's Ali Bauman reported.

As water flooded Branch Brook Park on Tuesday morning, tens of thousands of Newark and Belleville residents tried to get through the day without running water.

"Hot, hectic, frustrating," Newark resident Beverly Hill said.

Hill's water was just starting to come back in her South Ward apartment at around 7 p.m.

"You can't really cook, and God knows you can't take a shower," Hill said.

Newark city workers handed out more than 7,000 cases to residents, even going door to door in the stifling heat.

"To ensure the residents during this brief crisis don't experience trauma in this heat, hot weather," South Ward Council Member Patrick Council said.

The water main broke on the Belleville-Newark border just before 8 a.m.

One driver nearly died when she approached flooding on Mill Street. She smartly got out of her car and within seconds the ground gave in and swallowed up her vehicle, leaving only a tire visible.

University Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center both began limiting visitors to conserve water, and even canceled elective procedures for the day.

Utility workers said the culprit of the water main break was a 42-inch pipe built in 1880.

"Most of the infrastructure in the Northeast include Newark. Newark is the third-oldest major city in the country, might have infrastructure going back before Abe Lincoln was president," said Kareem Adeem, director of the Department of Water & Sewer Utilities.

Adeem said the city sees a break like this once a decade.

"Because of that, over the last 10 years we continue to update and address the system through infrastructure. It helps us be able to respond quickly," he said.

The boil water advisory will stay in effect at least through Wednesday, until testing of the water supply is deemed safe.

See live updates below for the latest. 

 

Water finally shut off

Belleville Mayor Michael Melham said Newark Water turned off the water in a Facebook post timestamped 12:35 p.m. Wednesday.

***Update*** The water is off. Newark Water has turned off the water flowing at the major water main break in Branch...

Posted by Michael Melham on Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"We are hopefully optimistic that repairs will commence. More details to come shortly," the post continued. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Water still flowing Wednesday

Water still flowing through Belleville streets 00:29

Water continued to flow Wednesday from the broken 42-inch pipe on Mill Street in Belleville. 

Video showed a car was still submerged in the sinkhole. The driver was able to escape before the ground gave way Tuesday. 

Crews worked overnight to repair the damaged main. 

A boil water order remains in effect, and city workers are handing out water to residents. 

At one point Tuesday, about 100,000 people were left without water -- on the hottest day of the year. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Newark residents scramble to find bottled water on one of the hottest days of the year

On one of the hottest days of the year, New Jersey's largest city struggled to stay cool with no running water.

"It's aggravating. It's really very annoying," one resident told CBS2's Christina Fan.

"Horrible, horrible. It's just devastating," another said.

At the Genesis Clinton Hill Apartments, parched residents gathered in the lobby for cases donated by local businesses. They have been unable to cook, clean, or even shower since 8 a.m. Tuesday.

"I live on the second floor and my water is just a trickle, very low pressure. It doesn't make it to the fourth floor," a resident said.

Massive water main break leaves thousands of Newark residents struggling for water 02:32

Roughly 100,000 people were affected, including the entirety of Belleville and Newark's North, West, South, and Central wards.

The major water emergency forced University Hospital to activate its emergency command center and postpone all clinic visits and elective procedures, and forced Newark Beth Israel Medical Center to temporarily suspend visitation.

Newark's summer school programs were also cancelled.

"It's too hot to not get in the shower and then I got my kids and I need my water on," one person said.

"The water was brown. It wasn't drinkable," a person said.

City officials handed out over 2,000 cases of water, but many who couldn't find distribution centers had to search for themselves at grocery stores, where shoppers cleared out the shelves quickly. One ShopRite had to limit the number of gallons people could buy.

"Everybody's buying water. There's no water," a customer said.

Families across the city said the situation seemed to improve as the afternoon went on. Water pressure eventually started to recover, but a water boil advisory remains in effect for affected customers.

But in this sweltering heat, families say that's not a preferred option.

By Christina Fan
 

Newark Water & Sewer Utilities director: "Water is starting to be restored"

Officials have been providing updates all afternoon and said they have made significant headway and the repair is closer to completion. They say 100,000 people have been impacted by the water main break, some without water and other with little pressure.

"Water is starting to be restored," Kareem Adeem, Newark's director of Water & Sewer Utilities, told CBS2's Thalia Perez.

That major progress is happening hours after a main burst inside Branch Brook Park on Mill Street. Chopper 2 was overhead as water quickly gushed out into the street.

"There was a water main break under the road, and a driver was driving on Mill Street and noticed water was coming up from the ground," Belleville Mayor Michael Melham said.

Massive water main break creates sinkhole, leaves thousands without water in New Jersey 01:55

Fortunately, the driver quickly got out of her car, because moments later the ground gave way and the car began disappearing into a sink hole, leaving only a tire visible above ground.

"This pipe was built in 1880. Normally, we don't have a history of knowing that it had any defects, that it needed any type of attention. It just could have went," Adeem said.

Utility officials spent the afternoon working to turn the water off, which triggered a massive water emergency before 8 a.m.

University Hospital in Newark said it had activated its emergency command center and was doing whatever it took to keep patients safe. Neighbors that spoke to CBS2 were also concerned about being without water on such a hot day.

"With hot weather like this, water is important just to stay refreshed," Carlos Poupart said.

As the water is restored, the boil advisory will remain in effect. The state DEP will make the final decision as to when it will be lifted.  

By CBS New York Team
 

Update on repair efforts

Update on water main break impacting Newark and Belleville 10:00

Kareem Adeem, director of water and sewer utilities for the city of Newark, held an afternoon briefing on the water main break and the status of repair efforts. 

"Right now, water pressure is starting to climb back up, it's starting to pressurize the system, as we isolated more of the large valves from the leakage," Adeem said. "The boil water advisory is still in effect." 

The cause of the break is not yet known. Officials will have to excavate it to detect the cause. 

"Water is starting to be restored," Adeem said. 

The pipe was built in 1880, Adeem said, and Newark has some of the oldest infrastructure in the country. 

"We have infrastructure going back before Abe Lincoln was president," Adeem said. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Gov. Murphy's office monitoring situation

"Our office is closely monitoring the situation and has been in contact with Belleville and Newark officials to determine best ways to assist their water, fire, and law enforcement departments to contain the problem. We are also determining ways to provide residents clean water, especially as temperatures are expected to be in the high 90 degrees today. For now, city and township officials are advising residents to boil their water before use. Newark residents who are experiencing a water emergency should contact (973) 733-3654," a spokesperson for the governor said. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center limiting visitors

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center said it is suspending visitors due to the water main break. 

Some procedures at the hospital have also been postponed or canceled. 

Patients were asked to call ahead to confirm. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Pipe was over 100 years old, no timeline yet for repair

Water main break causes massive flooding in Belleville 03:31

Officials told CBS2's Thalia Perez the pipe that burst is over 100 years old and is between 42-48 inches long. 

Chopper 2 was overhead as water quickly rushed onto the street. Officials say the pipe broke before 8 a.m. 

"There was a water main break under the road. And a driver was driving on Mill Street and noticed water was coming up from the ground," said Belleville Mayor Michael Melham. 

Fortunately, the driver quickly got out of her car, as moments later the ground the ground gave way and the car began disappearing into a sinkhole. 

"Some areas have no water. Some areas have low water. That's why we put out the boil water advisory," said Kareem Adeem, director of water and sewer utilities for the city of Newark. 

Utility officials quickly arrived on the scene working to turn the water off, sparking a major water emergency in this and surrounding areas. University Hospital in Newark said it has activated its emergency command center and is working with state and local resources to make sure patients are safe. 

Businesses are also impacted and summer school programs canceled. 

"Do you have bottled water at home?" Perez asked Newark resident Lisa Pace. 

"We're going to get some. I hope there's still some left," Pace said. 

It's a more serious situation because of the heat. 

So far, there's no exact timeline as to when the break will be repaired. 

Thalia Perez contributed to this report. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Newark shares update on response

The Newark mayor and Public Safety director say crews have successfully closed four of the open valves, but still have two more to go. 

They say they expect to have the other two closed by noon. 

By CBS New York Team
 

University Hospital "impacted by the event"

University Hospital in Newark released the following statement: 

"University Hospital has been impacted by the event, and has activated its emergency command center. All appropriate steps are being taken to keep patients safe and deliver necessary care, as we coordinate with state and local resources.  Follow up inquiries should be directed to the City of Newark." 

By CBS New York Team
 

Water rushing down Mill Street

Major water main break floods Belleville, N.J. 01:23

CBS2's Jim Smith has an update from overhead in Chopper 2.

By CBS New York Team
 

Nutley impacted too

Nutley town officials say residents who receive Newark water may also be experiencing discoloration or low pressure. 

They say people should let their water run for 10 to 15 minutes before using it. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Boil water advisory

Newark officials are now advising people to boil water until further notice. 

The mayor and public safety director say crews will also be going door-to-door to hand out water. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Newark service impacted

People in Newark are experiencing little-to-no water pressure because of the break. 

Officials encourage those with a water emergency to call 973-733-3654.

For resident questions, call 973-733-4311.

By CBS New York Team
 

Break in Belleville

Belleville town officials say the break happened at Branch Brook Park, on the Newark border. 

They say people may be experiencing discolored water or low-to-no water pressure. 

Crews are working to repair the main and pump water to Clara Maass Medical Center. 

By CBS New York Team
 

Chopper 2 overhead

Chopper 2 Flying

Chopper 2 is checking out stories and traffic around our area. Let us know where you're watching from. See more on CBS News New York: http://cbsloc.al/cbsnnewyork

Posted by CBS New York on Tuesday, August 9, 2022
By CBS New York Team
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