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Fourth Major Water Main Break In A Month Hits Manhattan: 'My Car, As You Can See, Is Drowned'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Another water main has burst in the city, this time causing some major flooding on the Lower East Side.

The FDNY said it happened just before 5 p.m. on Monday near the FDR Drive and Catherine Slip, the area between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

The water bubbled up beneath the black top and was gushing over South Street for hours, just as New Yorkers who spent a long day at work thought they were getting their cars and going home.

"I got here at 5 o'clock and it was flooded. Yeah, I'm really upset," Amy Permenen said.

Lower East Side water main break
(Photo: CBSN New York)

Tomara Thomas said she was worried her car won't start in the morning.

"People's cars are underwater and they don't even know," Thomas said.

CBS2's Jessica Layton spoke to another person who needed his car immediately. Making matters worse, there was smoke coming out of the front and the back seat was filled with dirty water. Totally desperate, he started scooping water out with a cup.

"My car, as you can see, is drowned. I work at 2 o'clock in the morning and now I'm stuck here doing this," the man said.

The city said a 30-inch main broke, causing a mess for blocks in Lower Manhattan.

The water was overflowing for hours, because the Department of Environmental Protection had a hard time closing one of the pipe's valves.

"There's a construction site right here under South Street, under the underpass to the FDR drive, and it made it difficult for us to get to that valve," DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said.

It is the fourth major water main break in New York City in a month. Layton asked the commissioner how he could explain that to people who are fed up.

"It's a big city. We have 6,800 miles of water mains. Breaks do happen," Sapienza said. "New York City does a terrific job keeping water main breaks to a minimum. We are much lower than the national average."

But you were not going to find anyone in the area applauding the city for that. Not Monday night.

"I think it's the city's fault," Thomas said.

The DEP commissioner would not tell Layton how old the problem pipe was, but did say the average water main in New York City is 66 years old. Also, you live in the area and your water appears brown or discolored, the DEP wants you to run it until it's clear. Officials assured Layton the water is safe to drink.


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