Residents return home after huge water main break

August 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Progress has been made in the effort to clean up the mess left behind by a massive water main break in San Francisco. Crews took action Wednesday to not only repair the 42-inch main that ruptured Tuesday morning, but also to figure out just how it happened. The huge sinkhole is the biggest reminder of Tuesday's giant mess on Sunnydale Avenue and Tomaso Court, which is about a half-mile from the Cow Palace.

Officials say it's going to take two weeks to repair the pipe. And fixing the street and sidewalk damage could take much longer. Still, residents of the 14 houses that had to be cleared out were allowed to come home Wednesday.

A pipe section was brought up late Wednesday afternoon. The PUC says the rupture happened along a portion of the segment where there was a joint connection. Before being brought out, a hole was cut in the damaged section to allow a worker to crawl inside for a visual inspection. But that inspection did not yield any immediate answers as to why the brand new 42-inch water pipe failed Tuesday morning.

The transmission line gushed hundreds of thousands of gallons of water for nearly three hours, turning the streets below it into a small river. At the K-8 catholic school that had to evacuate, mud still sits up against the back door of the gym. Volunteers who helped get the campus ship-shape for the school year are wondering how they'll recover.

"It's very disappointing. We just spent two weeks having the gym floor resurfaced and redone. There were new carpets in the school. Those are all gone now. We spend a lot of time here, a lot of volunteer hours here. And it just really hurts to see everything the way it is," volunteer athletic director James Long said.

Crews are hustling to cleanup and repair the gym, playground, and two classrooms in time for school to re-open next Tuesday.

"School will be on Tuesday, 8:00. 270 kids, bright-eyed kids, K-8, will be back in school yes," Vice Principal Patrick Keeley said

Residents evacuated from 14 red-tagged homes overnight were allowed back in at about noon Wednesday, "We're glad to be home, back home," resident Mina de la Cruz said. She had already come back once in the morning to get medicines and food, not knowing if they would be allowed back in, "We have power and we can stay home, we can sleep there, we can stay there overnight."

There are, however, four nuns who cannot stay in the convent of Our Lady of Visitacion School. Since the neighborhood was evacuated, they've been staying elsewhere. Three are at Seton Medical Center and one at another church property.


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