Water main break floods roadways in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It looked like the Ohio River made its way to Shelby Park on Tuesday morning. A massive water main break created a huge headache for residents, first responders and the Louisville Water Company.

Louisville Fire and Rescue Capt. Salvador Melendez said the swift water rescue team responded to the 48-inch water main break at the intersection of Clay and Oak streets at 8:05 a.m. Tuesday.

The break forced the closures of several city blocks near downtown Louisville, as well as a shelter-in-place order. Three people had to be rescued from vehicles, including the driver of a Jefferson County Public School bus. Melendez said no one who was rescued was taken to an area hospital for treatment.

As of Tuesday night, the intersection of Clay and Oak Streets was closed and Oak Street is closed from Hancock to Shelby. Several adjacent streets were also closed.

The main which broke was 48 inches in diameter, made of cast iron and put into service in December 1893.

Melendez said utilities were turned off in several homes in the area. A perimeter of four to six blocks was shut down around the break, Melendez said.

LWC spokeswoman Kelley Dearing Smith said the main that broke was one of the largest mains in the system.

"It carries millions of gallons of water, so when the water main broke, clearly that water had to go somewhere, and it's the streets that are around us," she said.

Many areas around the break experienced low water pressure.

Antonio Brown's car was parked right where the water main break happened.

"Luckily, I'm on vacation right now and will file a claim," he said. "Hopefully the city will do something about it, but I will file a claim with my insurance."

Louisville Water Company officials said closing one valve on a water main can require up to 900 turns. Crews closed at least 15 valves Tuesday, and they are still going.

The Red Cross is assisting people. Anyone who needs help can call 502-589-4450. They have set up a shelter for anyone displaced due to the flooding. That shelter is located at the Sojourn Community Church at 1303 South Shelby Street.

The real work for Louisville Water will be when it takes a close look at that pipe and see what the break looks like and how it can it be fixed.

One of the businesses impacted by the low water pressure was Norton Healthcare.

Norton public relations manager Joe Hall released a statement that said in part, "We have activated our plan which includes drinking only bottled water and use of hand sanitizer gel after washing with water. Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our patients, we have delayed elective surgeries."

All downtown Humana locations were closed, and employees were asked to work from home.

As of 6:15 p.m. the water was turned off at the location of the main break. Louisville Water crews and contractors will be onsite Tuesday night to prepare the site for repairs.

Dearing Smith said crews had to go through the area and turn a series of valves to turn the water off. She said once crews can get to the main break and see the damage, a detour and plan for repairs will be made.

This story will be updated with more information as it comes into the newsroom.

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