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Massive water main break floods Tremont basements

Victims call on city to pay for damage
Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 23:06:02-05

CLEVELAND — A massive water main break in Tremont Wednesday night caused an even bigger headache when water began bubbling up in nearby basements.

"I'm thinking I'm about to lose my business here," said Scott Sosenko, owner Clark Bar. "I kept coming down just watching it rise and rise and rise."

When it was over, the waterline in the bar's basement stood more than three feet off the floor. The bar's furnaces and hot water tank flooded. A freezer tipped over and the compressors that power the bar's coolers were caked in mud.

By noon, Sosenko still wasn't sure what could be saved and how much the damages would total.

"I'm going to have a dumpster come on the weekend and everything that's down here is just going to go out into a big dumpster," he said.

Clean up took place up and down Clark Avenue after Cleveland Water says a 30-inch water main that was installed in 1887 broke open, sending water shooting into the air and flooding sewers.

"It stunk," said Steven Wagner after cleaning a foot of water from his basement on West 12th Street. "All the raw sewage, nasty."

But who will pay for the damage and clean-up? A Cleveland Water spokesman says anyone with damage can file a claim with the city's law department.

"Why should it be a strike against my insurance?" said Sosenko. "Why should I have to pay a deductible and have my rates go up?"

Sosenko is hoping to have the heat back on, and mounds of mud that the water washed in moved out soon. He said Super Bowl Sunday, which is just days away, is typically one of the bar's busiest days. In the meantime, empty barstools mean an empty cash register.

"Being a small mom-and-pop bar here, we're a family business," said Sosenko. "It's definitely going to be tough on us over here now."

Cleveland Water isn't sure what caused the water main to break Wednesday night. People living nearby said it's at least the third time they've seen water department crews working near Clark and West 14th Street in the last year. A spokesman for Cleveland Water said it's not unusual to have multiple breaks along the same water main over the course of a year.