The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and other first responders were called to a major water main break in Lowell on Monday that affected many areas within the city and prompted evacuations.
Multiple people had to be rescued by raft after water surrounded their homes in a Lowell neighborhood near downtown.
A water main broke around 3:30 p.m. and water filled the streets, partially submerging cars and gushing into the basement of an apartment complex that houses mostly people with disabilities or senior citizens.
Lowell police confirmed the break in the area of Moody Street, Cabot Street and Father Morrissette Boulevard, warning people to seek alternate routes and expect delays. Police said the Ayotte Garage was open with free parking for affected residents.
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Everybody inside the CityView Towers was told to leave as there was no power and no running water, and residents smelled smoke inside, as well.
“Our cellar is completely flooded,” said Walter House. “Several feet of water in the basement, it means we got no power and no water so they’re evacuating everybody.”
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“I was playing a video game,” said Sol Reyes. “The fire alarms went off.”
For tenants who needed help, police officers and firefighters escorted many outside and into buses where they were taken to emergency shelters.
“It was happening really fast,” said Natasha Rosa. “The water started coming towards the building.”
Rosa was on the second floor of the building waiting for her boyfriend to come home.
“I was scared especially when the smoke started coming into the hallways,” she said.
Helena Bradley was waiting on the street to pick up her sister.
“She’s up there nervous,” said Bradley. “I can’t go in there and help her. She’s on the 6th floor and has to come down the six flights in the dark.”
According to MEMA and Lowell police, two emergency shelters have been opened for residents who were evacuated -- the Lowell Senior Center, located at 276 Broadway Street, and the Mercier Center, at 21 Salem Street.
The city's Water Utility Department warned that the break is affecting many areas and that residents may see discolored water or low water pressure during the emergency repair.
Once the repair is made, water pressure will return to normal, however some residents may still experience discolored water. If that happens, residents are asked to run only the cold water in the tub or shower for approximately 10 minutes until the water clears.
By nightfall, a huge sinkhole could be seen in the street as crews worked on the broken pipe. It was not clear Monday night how long the repair would take, or when residents could return to their homes.