2015-10-28 / Front Page

Pups, People Flee Water Main Flood

By Liz Goff
A bumbling crew of construction workers turned Queens Boulevard into a raging river on October 23, with water gushing into nearby homes and businesses for more than five hours before being turned off.

The raging geyser also wreaked havoc with mass transit and motorists near Broadway and Queens Boulevard and forced the evacuation of nearby buildings, fire officials said.

“I was sleeping when my dot started barking,” the resident said. “I looked over and my puppy was trying to swim over toward me.”

A construction worker using a drill rig accidentally ruptured the 20-inch water main at about 8:05 a.m. on Friday, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said. The water receded at about 1:50 p.m., after workers were able to shut down the damaged main, the DEP spokesperson said.

Officials had trouble identifying which of the many mains running under the street had been damaged, leading to the five-hour turnoff delay, the DEP spokesperson said.

Water near the site at 51-35 Reeder Street in Elmhurst spewed into the neighborhood, reaching the tops of light poles and fire alarms, fire officials said.

Department of Buildings (DOB) officials launched an investigation to determine exactly what happened at the site, where inspectors issued two violations in recent months, including a stop work order that barred workers from doing underpinning work at the site, a DOB spokesperson said.

The owner, 85-15 Queens Blvd. LLC was also slapped with a $1,500 fine in August, after owners failed to notify DOB before they started digging at the site.

The site once housed a Wendy’s restaurant that was used as a set for the Eddie Murphy movie, “Coming To America.”

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