TEX: Ruptured water main floods area, homes

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Borderland Sunday, July 30, 2000

Ruptured water main floods area, homes

Shiara M. Davila El Paso Times

A traffic sign was among the debris washed away at Maple and Grant streets Saturday after a water main ruptured at Alabama and Grant streets. Torrents of water rushed down streets in the area and flooded some homes. A freight train was delayed while workers removed mud and debris from the railroad track bed.

A broken 24-inch water main early Saturday sent thousands of gallons of water gushing onto the streets and into homes and washed out railroad tracks in a Central neighborhood.

Nanette Muqoz, 35, said that when she heard rushing water outside her Maple Street home, she first shrugged it off as rain. Her husband, Ricker Muqoz, 41, who sleeps on the floor, didn't realize their house had been flooded until he reached for his drenched blanket.

"I was mad this morning. I was crying," Nanette Muqoz said. "I'm thankful my husband was alive when I woke up this morning because everything was plugged in -- the fan, the radio, all of the cords were underwater. I'm very thankful my husband didn't get electrocuted."

Karol Parker, public affairs manager for El Paso Water Utilities, said residents reported the problem about 2:30 a.m. and the repair work began at 5:42 a.m. She said crews had trouble isolating the leak in the 2-foot-wide pipe. The rupture was found on Alabama and Grant.

By Saturday afternoon, there was no sign of water, just blue bulldozers roaring through littered streets cleaning up mounds of mud and debris.

Muqoz said the railroad tracks between Grant and Pershing were piled with so much debris that residents called authorities to report the hazard.

"If someone hadn't called, the train would have derailed," Muqoz said, "It was stalled for about seven hours before they could get it going."

Union Pacific Railroad officials could not be reached for comment Saturday. Parker did not know how many homes were affected or how much the damage would cost the city. She said the water utility will work closely with customers and handle each case individually.

Rosa Maria Garcia, 48, called her husband when she heard water running in their basement. Garcia said she fell down slippery stairs as she returned to see the flood for herself. She said the basement in their Grant Street home, which is set up as a recreation room with a bar, couches and an entertainment center, was flooded when water spouted through cracks in the wall.

"I doubt the city will do anything," Garcia said, "I'll be satisfied if our insurance company sends someone out here to clean up this mess."


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 30, 2000

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