Residents Dig Out After Massive Break

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AKRON, Ohio -- Crews from the city of Akron used front end loaders to dig out homes along Valley Street on Friday as the clean-up got underway following a massive water main break on Thursday.

The break sent a river of water and mud into nearby neighborhoods, submerging cars and pouring filth as much as six feet deep into some basements.

On Gold Street, the rushing water collapsed the foundation of one home that was left uninhabitable.

Power and gas service to the affected homes remained out on Friday as Akron housing inspectors began assessing the damage.

Dale Bench was there as the water was rising and was able to go into his Valley Street house on Friday.

"All the electric and all the gas is off in all these residences around here and to some of the commercial buildings," said Bench. "We are in the process of trying to get those turned back on. Each building has to be inspected."

Bench said the street looked like Niagara Falls after the water started gushing after 6 p.m. on Thursday.

"For real, we don't have flood insurance," said Bench. "Who has flood insurance on a rental? Who would ever think it would flood down here like this? You got four man holes so was it negligence...was it negligence or was it a flood."

Neighbors continued to share their experiences on Friday.

"It sounded like it was raining, but I looked out the window and you couldn't see no rain so I went up to the window and looked out the window and it was flooded, water everywhere," said Kari Jiminez. "I was worried because you could hear it going into the basement from the outside, so we didn't know what was going to happen."

City crews were also cleaning up the debris at the massive hole opened up at the site of the break.

The water undermined the foundation of a local extruding company building which could not operate its shop on Friday.

St. Vincent-St. Mary School was also closed on Friday because of the break.

The Red Cross was maintaining a shelter for residents who had nowhere else to go.

A boil water advisory remained in effect from western Akron through Copley and Fairlawn.

"This is a 36 inch water main, plus it's under a lot of pressure. This water main serves almost all of west Akron, so when it went you get a lot of water out of a 36 inch water main," said Jim Weber, Construction Manager for the City of Akron.

Residents were hoping to get into their homes as soon as possible. Some were allowed to go back to at least get some of their belongings.

"They are allowing me to go in and get some clothes," said Omar Dawood. "I have on the same clothes since yesterday, so I'm pleased to go get some clothes and probably get to some friends house, some relatives house and take a shower."

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