Merchants clean up broken water main mess

April 16, 2009 5:59:43 PM PDT
There has been a major improvement in El Sobrante where a water main break flooded streets and nearly a dozen businesses Thursday.

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It all started Thursday afternoon when water burst out of the street from a 60-year-old, 12-inch broken water main in the area of San Pablo Dam Road and Hillcrest. It flooded businesses three and four inches deep.

Unfortunately, the problems for owners have not evaporated as quickly.

"It's mind boggling. It just happened so quick," said business owner Irene Huston.

And recovery feels like forever. Huston put 11 years into her high-end apparel store. She never imagined having mud on her floor, or spending an afternoon wringing flood water from furs. But that's her reality as she tries to assess the damage and provide a total to adjusters from East Bay Municipal District (EBMUD) who have patched up the pipe.

"It's a lot, and I don't even know if I'm going to be able to recover the loss. My computer, the cash register, the electricity is not going..." said Huston.

It is much the same story up and down the block. The contents of a computer store dried in the sun Friday, while vacuums sucked up the rest inside.

No business through the door either at a neighboring store. Another victim of the water that has caused such big problems for small business owners on San Pablo Dam Road.

"I don't know what I'm going to do and how long it's going to take to get back going again," said Huston.

EBMUD is continuing to investigate the cause of the leak.

The pipes were put down in 1947. Under a master plan, about eight miles of pipe are replaced each year. The pipe that broke was on the list for replacement.

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