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Berkeley Water Main Break Damages Home, Cuts Off Service

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- Residents in a Berkeley neighborhood got a rude awakening Sunday morning when a water main broke and started gushing water into the street.

At about 7:30 a.m., Jorge Rico heard something outside his Berkeley home.

"A very loud moaning sound and some metal breaking. And in the 5 seconds it took me to run out here, it was just water gushing out," said Rico. "It was very impressive, and not in a good way."

According to East Bay MUD, an eight-inch cast iron water main pipe blew open in front of Rico's house on Cedar Street. The water blasted for hours before being turned off. Its force was so great it has actually lifted portions of the sidewalk and street.

"And so now the curb and the street are even and, in some places, the street is higher than the curb," said Berkeley resident Bill Sato.

Mary Ann Furuichi's house took the most direct hit.  A river of water and mud flowed past the side of her home and into her backyard.  Her downstairs rooms were flooded and the carpet is ruined.  

EBMUD says they'll fix the damage but Furuichi wonders when the city will fix what she thinks caused the pipe break.

"There are trucks coming up and down this street during the day, during the week…" said Furuichi.

Cedar Street is narrow and the pavement is breaking up. A sign at the end of the block prohibits heavy trucks from using it.  But there's a Safeway about half a mile up the road and neighbors say trucks drive past here at all hours of the day and night.  

They say their homes literally shake when the trucks pass by.

"This is the first time there's indication of the traffic and the damage it's done because the law has been broken," said Furuichi.

By noon, EBMUD was digging up the street and preparing to patch this latest break in its aging infrastructure.

Neighbors said if it's true that heavy traffic did cause the pipe to fail, there's no reason to think it won't just happen again farther down the line.  

EBMUD says the broken pipe caused water to be shut off for 25 customers in the area. Service was restored at about 6 p.m. once repairs were completed.

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