Center City apartments evacuated due to pipe rupture
CENTER CITY - May 29, 2012 (WPVI) -- A Center City apartment building was evacuated late Tuesday night, and now crews say it appears that two faulty water pipes are to blame.
The Center City One Condominium Association says that around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday the wet standpipe systems in the east and west stair towers experienced breaks on the 30th and 6th floors.
"There was a boom that we heard, like a truck backfiring," explained resident Earl Levit.
Soon after, the fire alarms kicked in, alerting residents to evacuate the 182 unit high-rise that sits on the corner of Spruce and Juniper streets.
"My wife and I live on the top floor. I popped my head outside to see what appeared to be black water coming down the hallways from the west side to the east side. [The water] eventually covered the entire floor," Resident Dean Vetsikas said.
Rick Piper owns two apartments inside the condo. He says what started as a fun time out on the town ended badly last night.
"I came back from the theater at 10:00 p.m., water was pouring out of all three elevators. [I] walked 29 floors, at that point, water became pouring down the stairwells," Piper said.
Pam Veil and her husband have remained in close contact with the young family living inside the apartment they rent out.
"We felt terrible because our tenants just moved in a couple months ago and they have a very small baby a couple months old, so they had to be evacuated," Veil said.
Clean-up crews have been working since last night to pump out the standing water, but the city will not lift the evacuation order until the elevators are fully operational once again and that is taking longer than expected.
"Just the quantity of water that ended up coming down the elevator shafts made it take much longer to dry the elevators out than anticipated," Jeff Jacobs, the President of the Condominium Association, said.
Discounted rooms were offered at nearby hotels including the Doubletree, where some of the roughly 250 building residents stayed the night and attended an update meeting this morning.
Jacobs says just two years ago, the building updated the standpipe system to meet city requirements.
"We had to pressurize the wet standpipe so there's water immediately available to firefighters if they're on any floor, and it appears it's something about that pressurized system is what failed," Jacobs said.
philadelphia, center city, flooding, local/state
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