Broken water main closes Reisterstown Road Faucets run dry at thousands of homes

February 18, 1997|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

A break in a major water main created a temporary river and lake in Pikesville yesterday, closing a stretch of Reisterstown Road for several hours and disrupting water service in northwest Baltimore County.

Thousands of households and businesses in the Owings Mills area were without water for hours, and thousands of other faucets from Pikesville to Randallstown offered only "slack" water, said Kurt Kocher, a spokesman for the Baltimore Department of Public Works.

Traffic was snarled in the Pikesville area, where Reisterstown Road was closed beginning about 11 a.m.

Minor water pressure problems were reported at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown, prompting officials to truck in tanks of water as a precaution.

With insufficient water to operate toilets, officials at the nearby Beth El Congregation's preschool sent youngsters home early.

The problems were traced to a 24-inch main at a major pumping station. The pipe burst about 11 a.m., sending countless gallons of water rushing down a hillside and onto Reisterstown Road just south of the Baltimore Beltway, Kocher said.

Within minutes, the road was covered with 2 feet of water -- and a steadily accumulating delta of sand, rocks and debris.

Kocher, the public works spokesman, said water to the burst main was shut off about 2 p.m. yesterday, after the supply had been diverted to other lines. He said the pipe was to be excavated today in hopes of discovering the cause of the break and repairing the damage.

While it was still flowing, the torrent of water ran down a hill between an animal hospital and an insurance agency, flooded the road and then spilled over into the parking lot at the Pomona Square office building.

In the parking lot, the water rose to near the top of some cars' tires, and workers scurried to retrieve their vehicles. One man tiptoed through the water to climb into the passenger side of his Nissan 300ZX.

Steven N. Leitess, an attorney who works with his father at a law firm in the building, found a better way to retrieve his vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe.

"My father has a Jeep. I rode over on the running board," said Leitess, who managed to keep his brown wingtips dry.

Insurance agent Mel Harf was talking on the telephone, quoting rates to a customer, when his assistant pointed out the torrent of water outside his office. He stood on a porch overlooking the stream, but then decided he had work to do.

He waded back to his office -- with plastic garbage bags tied around his feet.

Pub Date: 2/18/97

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