SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) —  A big water main break in Union County flooded a neighborhood, forcing people out of their homes on Tuesday.

Earlier, a 48-inch main was capped just before 7 a.m. after it ruptured in Scotch Plains near the intersection of Birch Street and Portland Avenue around 4:30 a.m.

Now, a smaller main is bringing water to people who live nearby, but the pressure is low, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.

Workers will have to excavate 40 to 50 feet below the street to access the pipe for repairs.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports

The break sent water gushing down the street and tore a gaping hole in the road. At least a dozen homes, yards and cars were flooded by several feet of water, police said.

“Like a great big gush,” said 80-year-old resident Barbara Barone. “The water was coming out of the street like crazy.”

Some residents from in the area were evacuated as a precaution, including Barone, whose basement filled with water.

“Firemen came and told me I had to evacuate,” she said. “I told them no. They said ‘yes, you can’t stay in the house cause we’re gonna turn the power off,” she said.

Next door, Tuley Sencar and her three sons were also forced to leave.

“I was in shock, had to get the kids out,” she said. “When the window broke and the water started rushing in, I was just worried.”

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports  

Down the hill, the muddy river filled the gym at St. Bartholomew’s Academy.

“The rubber floor that we have is actually floating,” said Father John Paladino.

Now, crews are working to repair the break and are trying to determine why it ruptured.

“Could have been age, in the summer months we have high usage, could have been pressure,” said Michael Bange with New Jersey American Water Company.

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