Tulsa Water Main Break Floods Neighborhood On 61st Street, Prompts Evacuations

Monday, December 17th 2012, 10:43 am
By: News On 6

A water main break on 61st Street at 92nd East Avenue flooded at least three businesses and eight homes and shut down 61st Street in both directions Monday morning.

East 61st Street between South Memorial Drive and South Mingo Road will be closed to traffic until Tuesday evening, while crews work to repair the break.

Tulsa Police and the Tulsa Fire Departments assisted with evacuations because of the rising water.

The fire department had inflatable boats ready to go. They've got a total of 15 boats of different sizes throughout the city. But once the water was shut off, firefighters and police officers were able to carry and walk children out so they could be re-located.

The owner of the daycare said the children were moved to other daycare locations, once it was safe to do so and that daycare will be closed for several days.

"It got up to the door, but, didn't come into the building," said TFD Chief Stan May.

Public Works crews were able to shut down the 48-inch water main and, as soon as the pumping began, the water receded quickly, leaving behind a huge mess of mud clumps and rocks.

The water rose so quickly, it caught people off guard, including the firefighters. A fire truck from the Tulsa Fire Department was stranded in the high water, which was at least two feet deep in places.

"We've had some breaks due to the drought conditions, the ground shifting causing stress on the lines, but, right now, don't know what the cause was," said Clayton Edwards, Director of the water and sewer department.

Woodland Hills Church of Christ took the worst damage. 

The clean up for the church is going to be massive. The pews must be removed, the carpet ripped up and everything cleaned or thrown away.

"[It's] a total mess. There's about an inch of water all over the whole building, said church Elder Wilson Forrest.

The church just went through something like this two years ago and that time it cost $200,000, so they are expecting a similar expense this time. There will be no church service for the time being, with Christmas about a week away.

"It'll be two to three weeks before we can worship again here," Forrest said.

Public Works said no one should be without water and water pressure should be back to normal, because no customers were tied directly to the line that broke. Residents are all on smaller lines.

Mingo Valley Christian School was forced to close because of the break.  Two Tulsa City-County Library locations are also closed Monday due to lack of water.  The Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 East 93rd Street, and Helmerich Library, 5131 East 91st Street, are closed for the remainder of the day.  Current plans are to reopen Tuesday.