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Stern Grove Flooding from Water Main Break Forces Concert Cancellation; Damage 'Catastrophic'

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Stern Grove Festival on Wednesday announced that it would have to cancel the scheduled fund-raising Big Picnic concert Sunday afternoon due to flooding from a water main break in the area earlier this week.

The concert and fundraiser featuring iconic Oakland acts Tower of Power and Too $hort would have closed this year's season that had been a rousing success, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The water damage to the festival grounds from the Monday water main rupture has made the site unusable for public events, according to the festival's organizers. The Festival and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department are assessing the long-term damage to both the grounds and surrounding tree line, a press release issued by the festival stated. Officials said the site in its current condition is unsafe for events of any kind in the immediate future.

Photos and video provided by festival organizers showed the extent of the damage. Mud and water had flowed across the lawn in front of the stage as well as through the backstage area.

Stern Grove flooding damage
Stern Grove flooding damage (Stern Grove Festival)

"We are devastated to announce the sudden cancellation of our season finale and annual fundraiser with Tower of Power and Too $hort. This was definitely one of our most highly anticipated concerts of an incredible season, but the damage is too severe to move forward safely at this time," said Executive Director Bob Fiedler. "We are grateful that no one was hurt, and we are proud to have overcome so many challenges this year to have presented nine exceptional concerts for more than 50,000 people. We look forward to restoring the Grove and being able to welcome the community back next year."

Officials have described the damage to the venue and park as "catastrophic" The Stern Grove Festival is asking for public support to help rebuild from the damage to the grounds. Fans can donate online via or by texting STERNGROVE to 56512.

Stern Grove flooding damage
Stern Grove flooding damage (Stern Grove Festival)

The water main ruptured on Monday afternoon. KPIX 5 reporter Andria Borba posted video on Twitter of the geyser of water produced by the break on Sloat near 19th Avenue by the Grove. At the time she guessed it was a damaged hydrant.

A short time later, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department tweeted that the problem was a ruptured water main and that Grove and Pine Lake would be closed as repairs were made SF Public Works and San Francisco Public Utilities crews.

Twitter user Lo Enokawa posted video that showed the area in front of the Stern Grove stage completely swamped with mud from the water.

A second post said that the mud and water flowed through the Grove and into the into the parking lot on the west side as well as down the left side of the dog park and into Pine Lake.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission later tweeted that their crews were performing maintenance work on an air valve for a large pipeline at 22nd Ave and Sloat when they discovered the existing air valve was in poor condition and required repairs.

The water reportedly continued to flow for several hours from the site. After the geyser was finally shut down, water service was still impacted in the area into Tuesday as repairs continued.

The SFPUC tweeted out Tuesday night shortly before 9 p.m. that their crews had completed the repairs and water service would return to normal over the course of the evening, warning that their could be a brown color to water in the area due to sediment that was stirred up.

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