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Rain Complicates Steam Pipe Explosion Cleanup In Flatiron District

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The rain is creating a difficult situation for crews in the Flatiron District as they try to contain the hazardous debris from Thursday's steam pipe explosion.

The blast near 21st Street and Fifth Avenue sent asbestos-filled steam and pieces of the pipe flying.

"As a result of the steam main rupture, we had a lot of debris that went up into the air coated some of the buildings. So we're in the process of washing those buildings down," Con Edison Senior Vice President Saumil Shukla said Saturday.

The difficult cleanup was made even riskier by the heavy rain Saturday night. Crews used sandbags to line the contaminated area in hopes of preventing dangerous material from seeping out into storm sewers.

"The sandbags are here to mitigate any runoff. We don't want it to get out of the boundaries of the incident" said Shukla.

"We're really worried about that," resident Aaron Lemasters said. "We're just not really sure what they're going to do about the rain, if it's a problem."

Photos: Massive Steam Pipe Explosion In Manhattan's Flatiron District

The aftermath has created quite a headache for tenants in more than 40 buildings. Some are still without gas or hot water; many are unable to go home at all.

"Incredibly frustrated," one person said. "It's very inconvenient."

Residents showed up to a Red Cross pop-up center nearby, wondering when things will be back to normal.

"It's been a holdup for everybody's life right now," said Lemasters.

The city says people who live and work in the area may not be able to get back in until Monday at the earliest.

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