NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A water main break early Thursday morning shut down the Cross Bronx Expressway and flooded surrounding streets.

Several people had to be rescued from their cars and it created a traffic nightmare, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.

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The Cross Bronx opened later in the morning, but there were some residual delays on side roads.

The break happened at Jerome Avenue and West 175th Street, where the Department of Environmental Protection crews worked to pump out the water and remove the water main.

Petel Yengue Market was forced to close due to flooding in its basement.

“It’s like a nightmare. Costs a lot of money. My office was downstairs, computers, printers,” market employee Fatoumata Barry said.

The break happened at around 3 a.m. and flooded a nearby gas station, submerging at least seven cars. The FDNY said eight people were rescued. No injuries were reported.

“I just seen a panic,” witness Damaris Esquilin said.

“It was like eight feet of water,” driver Alex Crosdale said.

“I was thinking of going through it, but I said I’m probably not even going to make it with this,” Lance Ochrym added.

Drivers waited for hours on the expressway, from the area of the break all the way to the George Washington Bridge.

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“There was nothing we could do, just had to watch it,” Crosdale said.

Con Edison, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the DEP were called in.

“They isolated the area that was leaking right here and they had the water shut off by about 6 a.m. this morning,” DEP spokesperson Ted Timbers said. “It’s a 48-inch main that runs under Jerome Avenue. It was installed in 1909. It’s probably a little on the older side, but it’s not that old.

“Unfortunately, it drained to the lowest point, which is the Cross Bronx Expressway underpass,” he added.

Even blocks away, All Hallows High School had to cancel in-person learning because there was no heat or hot water.

“The kids are online at home, our teachers are online at home, and they’re having live classes and haven’t skipped a beat,” Principal Susan Natale told Rozner. “In a pre-pandemic world, that would have been a late call. They’re so used to it now that they’re ready to go and they knew how to transition immediately to online.”

Once the DEP extracts the pipe, it will be taken away for forensics to find the cause. Since it’s a high traffic area, the city said the break could have been caused be a number of factors.

The DEP said replacing the water main will take days.

Anyone who experienced property damage is being told to contact the city comptroller.

CBS2’s Lisa Rozner contributed to this report

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