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'We were overlooked': Cleveland residents frustrated after water main break caused major flooding

The City of Cleveland says a 30-inch water main broke causing flooding on the city's East side
Flooding 30-inch water main break
Posted at 7:04 PM, Nov 17, 2023

The City of Cleveland confirmed that a 30-inch water main broke near East 131st Street and Harvard Avenue, causing major flooding, water rescues and damage to homes and businesses Friday morning.

News 5 noticed a buckled road at the intersection of East 136th Street and Harvard Avenue and evidence of flooding that stretched for blocks.

Friday afternoon, the city released a statement:

Cleveland Water crews were onsite today to repair a 30-inch water main break near East 136th Street and Harvard Avenue. Crews have successfully controlled the broken main and are assessing the extent of the damage. We estimate it will be several weeks before the street is fully restored. Service to customers is not impacted and the water remains safe.

We have been assessing a small leak in the area over the past few weeks. Our goal over the next several days is to determine the exact cause of today’s incident.

Additionally, we always encourage residents who may notice basement flooding to first notify their insurance agency, followed by a claim to the City’s Law Department.
City of Cleveland

The city provided the following link to the claims section of the city's law department.

News 5 cameras captured water rescues early Friday morning. Lucretia Harris was one of the people trapped by fast-rising water.

"Before I knew it, my car started filling up with water, and it stalled out," Harris said. "And I couldn't go any further. And it just kept going high and higher and higher."

Firefighters and EMS had to rescue about a half dozen people.

Derrick Townsend said he had to climb onto the roof of his Cadillac after it was filled with water.

"I can't swim for one, and I had to call the fire department to come get me," Townsend said. "They couldn't even get down here."

Gregory and Linda Curd live on Harvard Ave. Gregory said a noise in the home woke him up around 1:30 Friday morning.

"I thought someone was breaking in," Gregory said.

When he and his wife went to check on things, they found a flooded basement.

The couple said their washer, dryer, and deep freezer were floating in the basement, and other big appliances were damaged.

"So now we're faced with no heat, no water and the cleaning up of all the mess because everything was floating down there," Gregory said.

The Curds and several people in the neighborhood said they reported to the city, going back at least two weeks ago, about water bubbling up from under the street.

"We were overlooked," Linda said.

Anthony Green, another resident, said he, too, called the city to report bubbling water.

"We got no explanation," Green said.

The owner of Allure Event Center spent the day removing water from his business and documenting damage.

Lester Devese with The Harvard Square Center said his community center was "destroyed" by flooding. Devese said he had been reporting water infrastructure issues to the city since Aug. 18.

Residents said they want more answers from the city.

"We just need your help," Green said. "We [are] paying our taxes, most of us, and we just really need your help."

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