NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A part of Queens was under water Friday after a massive water main break prompted the evacuations of several buildings, closed down streets, and disrupted bus and subway service in the area.
The main broke around 8:15 a.m. at a construction site on Queens Boulevard and Broadway in Elmhurst, causing a geyser of water to gush out into nearby streets.
“It looked like Old Faithful. I’m not exaggerating, it did. It did look like Old Faithful,” resident Anthony Morales told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
Seven buildings were evacuated.
“We’re concerned with the flooding of some of the basements for electric and for gas issues, we’re also concerned with water entering the subway,” FDNY Chief Frank Leeb said.
“Pretty scary because the firemen came, knocked on the door, told us that we may have to evacuate, and get all your belongings. So, it’s pretty scary,” said Michelle Morales.
The water gushed for almost four hours before crews could cap the 20-inch water main, Rivera reported.
“The water is very, very steep; it’s very high, I would say mid-calf,” Grace Fraracco, an administrator at a nearby senior center, told 1010 WINS.
FDNY Deputy Chief Brendan McSweeney said a construction crew working on a mixed-use project at the site accidentally struck the large water main, WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported.
A man identifying himself as the general contractor acknowledged that his crew may have broken the pipe, CBS2’s Steve Langford reported.
“It seems that way, but the DEP doesn’t know what’s the load there,” Sam Spadina said. “They’re trying to figure out what happened.”
The Department of Buildings said a partial stop work order was put in place on Aug. 31, 2015 and remained in place as of Friday morning when the main burst.
Officials from Con Edison and the Office of Emergency Management are on the scene.
Queens Boulevard was closed in both directions from 51st Avenue to 55th Avenue due to the massive amount of water. Authorities reopened the roadway hours later, except for the westbound service road, which remains closed.
Some buses were being rerouted and subway service in the area faced disruptions for a good portion of the day. But just before 4 p.m., the MTA announced service had resumed with residual delays.
The construction site is where a fast food restaurant stood for many years. It was also used as McDowell’s in the movie “Coming to America,” starring Eddie Murphy.