Residents Forced to Leave, Vehicles Submerged After Water Main Break Floods South L.A. Neighborhood

A water main break has flooded streets in the South Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles Friday morning, making alleyways look more like a flowing river and displacing dozens of residents.

Flooding was reported as early as 4:50 a.m. along the 300 block of East 55th Street, when a 24-inch cast iron main, built in 1922, broke.

About 75 customers are without water after the main was shut off and could remain without it for up to 24 hours, Eric Shavely of the DWP said. Southern California Gas was also expected to shut off service in the area to safely work on cleaning up debris.

Cheron Cannon, who lives in the area, said LADWP crews had been out in the area inspecting issues on Thursday.

“They was here yesterday and they didn’t do anything, and it’s been leaking for a few days now,” Cannon said. “We didn’t know if it was coming from the park or where…and then at 5 o’clock in the morning it just exploded.”

However, the agency contends the water main break is unrelated to the leak, which it said it investigated Tuesday.

LADWP said it was working with other city agencies and the Red Cross to provide housing and meal assistance to displaced residents.

"The 41 individuals displaced are being transported to the Department of Recreation and Parks’ Fred Roberts Recreation Center where lunch will be provided," the agency said in a news release. "Once lodging details are finalized, LADWP will transport residents to their hotel.

Other city agencies would also be working to support anyone with special needs or who has pets.

It took crews four hours to cut water service to the area after the leak was reported, and 41 residents were subsequently evacuated.

“When you have this much moving energy in a 24-inch water main, you have to shut it down slowly, otherwise it can have some reverberations throughout the system," Eric Shavely of the DWP said of the agency's response.

The swift-flowing water also carried debris and mud, and several vehicles were partially submerged as residents looked out their front porches at the damage.

Eventually, what appeared to be a sinkhole formed in front of one home, where at least two vehicles were submerged, aerial video from Sky5 showed.

Cannon said her family’s three cars were among those. The Sky5 footage showed one truck had turned on its side, while another was submerged almost to the top of its cab.

“Where do we go? What do we do?” Cannon asked. “How are they going to clean this up? It’s disgusting.”

LADWP said four damaged vehicles were towed to another street, and residents would not be charged impound fees.

Los Angeles firefighters responded about 7:20 a.m. to help move more than a dozen residents when the rising water began threatening homes.

One person fell in the water as firefighters were working to get residents affected by the flooding out of their homes, aerial video from Sky5 showed. Later, a pickup truck was seen floating away in a street.

No injuries have been reported during the flooding. Crews will be assessing damage caused by the leak.

Los Angeles Police Department officials also responded to the incident.

Mud caked the streets in some areas as the water stopped flowing, but streets expected to be closed for most of the day for cleanup, officials said.

Traffic was closed between Main Street and Avalon Boulevard, according to the DWP.

The affected area is right across the street from South Los Angeles Wetlands Park, a space that collects urban runoff from a storm drain and sends it through constructed wetlands for treatment.

KTLA's Erika Martin contributed to this report.

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