Main breaks: Mud floods S. Franklin

Gastineau Ave. closed, Filipino Community Hall damaged by mud, water

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2002

Dannie Lazaro was in the back room of the Filipino Community Hall doing some paperwork after a Bingo game ended late Sunday night when he saw the walls buckle, the back door bow and part of Gastineau Avenue come crashing into the room around his feet.

"The walls just buckled and water started springing out of them like a fountain," said Lazaro, newly elected president of the Filipino Community.

"The door bowed in and there were these little fountains of water all over here and there," he said. "I was there with one other person. We just started to unplug all the electrical things so no one would get electrocuted. The water came in so fast. It flooded almost right away. ... There was mud everywhere, covering everything... I almost started to panic a little but tried to compose myself."

Around 11 p.m. Sunday, a 10-inch water main broke near the 200 block of Gastineau Avenue causing a mudslide, several residents to lose water and extensive damage to the Filipino Community Hall on South Franklin Street. No one was injured.

The break also shot geysers of water through the asphalt of Gastineau Avenue, leaving a 4-foot sink hole in the middle of the road.

Dave Crabtree, senior operator for the water utility department, said the main most likely broke because of its age.

"It simply wore out, we think," said Crabtree. "That's why we were doing work up there. The piping is just old and it finally failed."

Engineering Director John Stone said renovations to Gastineau Avenue, done by Arete Construction, include paving, adding sidewalks, replacing utilities and building a retaining wall. Construction began last year and is three-fourths complete.

Crabtree said city crews and Arete plan to peel off the asphalt on Gastineau and repair the hole today. Gastineau is expected to reopen Tuesday, he said. Crews will install temporary water lines for the nine Gastineau residences without water because of the break.

After the break, thousands of gallons of water carried mud and rock from the hillside into the backs of several buildings below.

Vern McGee was sitting on the back porch of the Glory Hole when he saw the slide coming.

"It was just a huge boom," said McGee. "There was this loud rush of water. It sounded just like a river coming by. I walked the trail back here to the Filipino Hall and looked in their back door. I saw about 4 feet of standing water and thought 'oh boy, they're in trouble,' so I ran back and had our night manager call the police. "

Crabtree said the city doesn't know how much damage the slide caused to Franklin Street businesses. As of this morning, he said, the Filipino Hall appeared to have sustained the brunt of the damage.

Aside from damages and clean-up costs, Lazaro said the hall will lose $8,000 in revenues from canceling Bingo this Thursday and will lose more if private parties and social events can't be held.

"We will get through this somehow," he said.

The slide also left a 5-inch mud slick over South Franklin Street between the Red Dog Saloon and the Glory Hole as it oozed into nearby storm drains.

Kevin Millay with Arete Construction said the water's path split near a tree in the hillside with the bulk of it headed toward Thane Road. As storm drains filled, the mud bubbled back into the streets, flooding South Franklin. He said by early this morning Arete and the city Public Works Department had much of the mess under control.

"I got a call around midnight to come down and shut off the water supply and once that was done nothing left to do but clean up, stabilize the hillside and look for trinkets," said Millay as he cleaned up a 1920s miniature champagne bottle a treasure found among porch chairs and muddy boulders in the mud above South Franklin.

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