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South High Street is back open following massive water main break in downtown Akron

Posted: 6:08 AM, Oct 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-28 18:40:35-04
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AKRON, Ohio — South High Street in downtown Akron has reopened after a water line break early Monday morning sent water shooting high up into the air.

As of late morning, the massive hole left behind in the road had been patched and all lanes of traffic had reopened by early afternoon.

The water main break previously blocked off the entire street to traffic as crews worked to repair it. The Akron Water Department said the water main break is now fixed.

News 5's overnight news tracker captured water shooting 40 to 50 feet in the air.

The break was in an 8-inch water line that serves a fire hydrant, according to a spokesperson from the city of Akron, and connects to a 20-inch water main, which did not break. Both were installed in 1921, according to the city.

The water did not cause any major damage to nearby buildings, according to staff at the John S. Knight Center and the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

"I would like to think that we have a plan for everything," said Gregg Mervis, president and CEO of the John S. Knight Center. "A 40-foot water geyser, we did not."

Mervis said the first priority was to make sure everyone was safe, including operations staff and overnight security who may have been in the building when the break took place at 2 a.m. The center followed a mitigation plan as they worked to get water out of the building and restore the first floor back to normal.

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South High Street closed between East Mill and East Market due to a water main break.

"At the worst, the water was flowing pretty heavy, and there was a decent amount of rocks and debris that was up in the air," Mervis said. "We made sure we stayed away from the windows."

Only a few glass panes on the outside of the building were damaged, Mervis said, and with cleanup mostly complete, fans spread across the floor inside continued to dry out the carpet that had been soaked by water.

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South High Street closed between East Mill and East Market due to a water main break.

Mervis said the building did not have any events scheduled for Monday but would be ready to go for an event Tuesday.

Across the street at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, executive director Pam Hickson-Stevenson said things could have been much worse if water had gotten into the building.

"It’s damaging in all buildings, but in a building that has many paper products, water is really a nightmare scenario," Hickson-Stevenson said.

Library staff said a morning class on microbusiness had to be canceled and would be rescheduled, as the library delayed its opening until 12 p.m. The building and its collections were not damaged, though Hickson-Stevenson worried they might be when she first received a call about the water line break

"Our magazine and newspaper collection is almost directly underneath where we’re standing right now, and our science and technology materials, which cover everything from cookbooks to pets to chemistry," Hickson-Stevenson said.

Mervis said he wasn't concerned about whether something like this could happen again.

"You try and plan for the worst, and it happened," Mervis said. "I’m not worried about it happening again. If it does, we’ll react the way that it did, but I think that we should be good going forward."