JEFFERSON PARK — Wednesday night’s brutal cold caused a water main to break on a residential street in Jefferson Park.
The break was first reported at about 6 p.m. Wednesday in the 5300 block of North Nagle Avenue, said Megan Vidis, a spokesperson for the city’s water department. The break left 70 residents without water, and a city crew spent the entire night excavating the area to fix it, she said.
Neighbor Heidi Ward, who lives on the block, said water was shooting up two or three-feet high from the broken main.
As crews were dispatched to fix the break, police officers went door-to-door alerting neighbors so they could move their cars off the street before the flooding water started to freeze, which could have trapped cars in ice.
On Thursday morning, the street was closed in all directions from the intersection of Nagle and Catalpa avenues as crews continued to work on the main, now using a blowtorch to keep their equipment from freezing.
On the block where the main broke, the street and sidewalk had a thick layer of slick ice that cracked when walked upon. Crews had scattered sand on the ice at some point, and while it provided more traction when walking, the sand had also frozen.
Water service to homes was restored at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Vidis said. Earlier, the city dropped off bottled water to families who were without water during main break.
Ward said Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by the block earlier in the day to drop off coffee and donuts to the crew working to repair the main.
“These crews should be getting overtime and hazard pay at the same time,” Ward said. “This has just been crazy.”
Albert Roser, another resident who lives on the block, said his basement didn’t flood, but his 88-year-old neighbor had three feet of water in her basement post-break. She called 911 after her home flooded, he said, and is currently staying with friends.
“Both blocks were all screwed up when the water main broke, it was like a river,” Roser said.
Ward, who’s lived on the block for the past 15 years, says she’s seen a water main break in her area at least once per year.
“I don’t know if it’s just because this area is older and that the pipes are just so old, but there have been water main breaks a few times,” Ward said. “But this has been the worst one.”
Temperatures recorded at O’Hare were just 21 degrees below zero Wednesday morning. Wind chills were expected to make it feel as cold as 45 below zero outside during the coldest parts of the day, according to the National Weather Service.
When a service line has been connected to a new water main, the city recommends residents flush their plumbing of any sediment, rust or metals, including any lead to maintain water quality.
Sediment, rust and metals, including any lead may collect in the aerator screen located at the tip of faucets and these screens should be removed prior to flushing.
Additional instructions on how to flush a home’s plumbing can be found here.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.