published Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Video: Water main break in downtown Chattanooga floods Georgia Avenue

Tennessee American Water employees work to contain a broken 12-inch main downtown Wednesday. A water main break on Georgia Avenue released a torrent of water down Georgia Avenue onto Cherry Street, down Eighth Street and onto Market Street.
Tennessee American Water employees work to contain a broken 12-inch main downtown Wednesday. A water main break on Georgia Avenue released a torrent of water down Georgia Avenue onto Cherry Street, down Eighth Street and onto Market Street.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
  • Water main breaks downtown
    A 12-inch water main near Georgia Avenue burst Wednesday, causing several downtown streets to flood. According to Tennessee American Water, several businesses will be forced to close today in order to fix the leak.

Suit-clad businessmen took bounding leaps and high-heeled businesswomen gingerly edged along street curbs while trying to dodge a sudden tide of water gushing down a four-block span in the heart of downtown Chattanooga on Wednesday afternoon.

The water poured into the streets after a 12-inch water main ruptured near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Patten Parkway, Tennessee American Water spokeswoman Jessica Presley said.

The main broke when crews were working on a different section of the line nearby, said Presley.

Crews worked through the night to try to find the source of the leak, and hoped to have it shut off by the start of the working day, Presley said Wednesday night.

"We will continue to work until the main has been repaired," she said. "We apologize to the customers in the area who have been impacted."

The leak forced work crews to shut off water feeding the line, cutting off the water supply for about 30 customers, Presley said.

While some area workers and residents were dealing with no water, others were coping with too much.

Jai Kwak and his wife spent the afternoon and evening wielding mops and brooms as they tried to stave off flooding in their Bleacher Bums restaurant, which is next to Miller Plaza.

"We've been sweeping up water for hours now," Kwak said on Wednesday evening.

Kwak said Tennessee American workers gave him a barrier to put up in front of his door, but water still seeped through. He said he's concerned his restaurant's floor may have sustained some water damage.

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WHAT TO DO

If your business was impacted by the main break, make a claim to the Tennessee American Water Risk Management Team by calling (423)-755-7613.

Kim White, president and CEO of River City Co., was dealt a double-blow when the main broke. Her company owns Miller Plaza and the adjacent office building, which is home to Bleacher Bums and several other businesses.

She also lives in a condo in the Loveman's Building, which took on water in its basement.

"When I first got here, you could have put a canoe in the streets, it was so flooded," White said. "It's just unfortunate."

White said a Risk Management team with Tennessee American assessed damage in the basement, which is used for condo residents' storage.

Natalie Lewis, who is in the process of moving out of the condo, had to put off her plans to pack up some of her final household items.

"Well we didn't get anything moved. Most everything we had left was in the basement," said Lewis. She said she knew her television -- which was sitting directly on the basement floor -- was likely ruined.

But because she was moving, most of her stuff was out.

"I just feel bad for everyone else who had stuff down there," Lewis said.

Presley said it is still too early to estimate how much water spilled out of the main, or how much the rupture will cost their company.

This is the second sizable water main break in downtown Chattanooga in the past year.

In March, Chattanooga's Southside was flooded for days after a 24-inch main was gashed by a group of AT&T subcontractors who were drilling along Cowart Street.

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