City officials on Wednesday were working with business owners in the South End whose companies suffered heavy damages Tuesday night when a water main break flooded Harrison Avenue and some adjacent areas, collapsing parts of the street and submerging parked cars, authorities said.
The leak began at 9:18 p.m. near 500 Harrison Ave. and quickly flooded the area, according to the Boston Fire Department and the city’s Water and Sewer Commission. The broken 30-inch water main break was later shut off. The commission said late Wednesday morning that water service had been restored to affected businesses and residents.
Among the businesses that suffered significant damage was Meichi Peng Design Studio, owned by Peng, a well-known interior designer in the city. She said about five feet of water came gushing into her business, submerging computer equipment, drawings and other valuable items.
“The most devastating thing is the valuable art and the antique furniture,” Peng said in a phone interview. “Everything is literally all gone.”
She said she was having a remote meeting with a client on her computer in the office when a parking attendant tapped her window and informed her of the flooding. She called 911, she said, as the water came in “so high," and a Boston firefighter and two other people later entered and said " ‘we gotta go, we gotta move.’ "
The trio helped guide her toward an exit, and she got out on her own, she said.
“It’s like a giant swimming pool,” Peng said of the water that devastated her business.
Almitra Stanley, director of Boston Sculptors Gallery, said via email that the gallery located at 486 Harrison Ave. was largely spared.
“Thankfully, our gallery was spared from damage and only had some mud in our entry way, which is several stairs away from the exhibition area,” Stanley wrote. “The power is out as the basement below was flooded, and according to our property owners, GTI Properties, it will be out for an extended period of time. They’ve moved all the tenants from the apartments upstairs to another temporary location.”
Other galleries weren’t as fortunate.
“Unfortunately, it sounds like many galleries did sustain significant damage to artwork and their spaces,” Stanley wrote.
Dolores Randolph, a Boston Water and Sewer spokesperson, said Wednesday afternoon via email that the agency was working with customers to determine the extent of the damages.
“Customers who have experienced property damage should contact their insurance carrier, preserve their property, and take a photo of the property at the site,” Randolph wrote. “If customers wish to file a claim, they can access the form using the following link: https://www.bwsc.org/about/contact. This form can be emailed to email@example.com. The priority was to restore water services and ensure the availability of fire protection services which has been completed at this time.”
Update: The water main has been shut down. Residents’ services should return soon.Residents experiencing discolored water, we have been flushing areas. Run the tap a water should clear.— BWSC (@BOSTON_WATER) April 15, 2020
The Boston Fire Department tweeted that the flood of water caused significant damage in the neighborhood.
“The street has buckled, there are multiple cars under water,” the department wrote. The tweet included dramatic photos of cars and SUVs in standing water, some submerged to the hood or roof.
@BostonFire Chief Neal Mullane gave update to the media. All companies have been released and @bostonpolice have road blocked so utility companies can continue to work. Thank you to @BostonSparks for keeping companies nourished & hydrated to keep Boston safe. pic.twitter.com/c43GRSUAdu— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) April 15, 2020
Boston police were also on the scene Tuesday night, a spokesman said. Officers responded to a report of a water main break near the intersection of Washington and Perry streets at 9:24 p.m., said Officer James Moccia, a department spokesman.
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