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Ruptured sprinkler pipe causes damage to Newark apartment building

Ruptured sprinkler pipe causes damage to Newark apartment building
Ruptured sprinkler pipe causes damage to Newark apartment building 01:21

NEWARK, Del. (CBS) – A sprinkler system burst in a Newark, Delaware, apartment complex Wednesday night. Thursday, neighbors were allowed back into their homes to retrieve their belongings.  

"This is a nightmare. It really is. It's very bizarre," Mary Ellen Fish, a displaced resident, said.

Neighbors from Fountainview Apartments in Newark, Delaware, are living through a nightmare they can't wake up from. A malfunctioning sprinkler pipe burst, flooding the entire building and all 64 apartments.

"The water was cascading over the top of the building. It was like a waterfall, like Niagara Falls. You would not have believed the amount of water," Fish said.

The local fire department sent CBS News Philadelphia a video that shows flooded corridors. An apartment's ceiling even collapsed.

"Within minutes, my whole unit was flooded. My rugs, everything, were floating, shoes, the whole place is destroyed," Robin Huss, displaced resident, said.

CBS News Philadelphia was told about 120 people have been displaced. As of right now, there's no timetable on when they'll be allowed back into their apartments.

"The water cascaded down all the floors," Lawrence Tan, from Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder, said. "There was damage on every floor. Water was cascading through light fixtures, smoke detectors fixtures."

The city determined the building was uninhabitable because of the water damage, and the electricity had to be shut off. 

Crews were on hand Thursday morning to start the cleanup and repair process.  

The apartment community is a mixture of owner-occupied and rental units. The complex caters to those who are over 55 years old.

"It was really scary, and now we're not sure whether we're going to get in at any time," Jane Long, a displaced resident, said.

Before anyone will be allowed back home, the sprinkler system must be fixed and the city has to issue a Certificate of Occupancy. but people like Huss question if there will be anything to go home to.

"At 60, how do you start over? Where do we go? What do we do?" Huss said.

Some local hotels are offering displaced residents discounts.

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