Streets became river rapids when a 24-inch water main burst on East Agnew Avenue near Beck Run Road in Carrick, Pittsburgh, PA early Friday morning, September 20, 2019. Water poured from the broken main & rushed down the street for hours. The flood made a waterfall over a ravine behind homes on East Agnew Avenue. The deluge damaged houses, streets & vehicles in a way that isn’t often seen from water main breaks.
People woke to their homes being surrounded by water that was six feet deep in places. Basements filled with water. Police, firefighters & EMS rescued several people & their pets, reporting that everyone was accounted for. Rescue workers wore special gear designed for swift-water rescue operations. In all, the raging waters damaged 10 homes. Three received significant damage. The Red Cross helped displaced people.
Power to the area was cut because utility poles were compromised in the catastrophe. One broken pole remained upright because live wires held it up – it just swayed in the water.
People were ordered to avoid the area near East Agnew Avenue & Becks Run Road. Parts of Glass Run Road & Redrose Avenue were also affected. Traffic was rerouted from Becks Run Road to East Carson Street to Glass Run Road to Churchview Avenue to Brownsville Road & back to Becks Run.
Pittsburgh Public Schools closed ten schools Friday because of limited water in school buildings. Suburban schools also shut down because of water problems.
Businesses affected by the torrent – or water or electrical outages – were closed. A flatbed truck was buried by flood debris. Two excavators were damaged.
The valve to shut off the flow of water couldn’t be reached – it was under water. Officials & workers at Pennsylvania American Water Company, which owns the water main, sorted back through which water valves to turn off to stop the cascade of water. Around 11:30 AM, the water was shut off. It was six hours after the break was reported.
Carrick & 35 municipalities in the South Hills & West Hills of Pittsburgh were placed under a Boil Water Advisory after the water line break caused water outages or low pressure. Pennsylvania American Water set up water tanks – called water buffaloes – in Carrick & more than a dozen other locations to supply usable water to people who were left without water. The flush & boil order was lifted 48 hours later.
Evaluating the damage began.
The water main break had buckled East Agnew Avenue, opening a crater estimated at 20 feet wide – as big as the road – & 25 feet deep.
Debris was scattered everywhere.
Two houses were condemned & couldn’t be lived in again with being fixed first.
Two days later, crews repairing the part of Becks Run Road damaged in the deluge accidentally ruptured a gas line. Columbia Gas officials turned off service to businesses in the area as a safety precaution.
Contractors repaired East Agnew Avenue & reopened it to traffic in under two weeks. A portion of East Agnew was closed again as necessary to complete repair to Becks Run Road.
Adjusters, appraisers, engineers & restoration contractors for Pennsylvania American Water Company were dispatched to Carrick to compensate people affected by the flooding. The utility company insisted that insurance processes take time to resolve all issues.