WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — A water main break in the north metro flooded several homes with such force it shattered out windows.
It happened in the late morning hours near the 4800 of White Bear Parkway in White Bear Lake. The break in the main was pointed directly at a senior living community named The Cottages of White Bear Township.
Officials estimate more than 200,000 gallons of water rushed out before they could turn it off.
“Well, it could be much worse,” said resident Michael Truhler. That’s easy for him to say. “We were lucky, we were just on right side of the building. Had we been on the other side, we’d have suffered the same fate.”
That fate is a muddy, sloppy, dripping mess. At least five homes in the community were flooded when the water main sprung a massive leak, and at least eight people were displaced. Public Works Superintendent Dan Pawlenty said a cap on the main failed likely due to corrosion. He said the cap was probably installed in the 1970s.
“The integrity of the installation back then wasn’t what we do, put in, or install by today’s standards,” he said.
When the cap on the main broke, the water erupted out with explosive force. It busted out through the side of a hill directly facing one resident’s home. The water pressure was so immense that it shattered a window, flooding the inside. Truhler said the man who lived in that home was in his bedroom at the time and wasn’t hurt.
Pawlenty said finding the source of the break brought its own difficulties.
“Because it was off the road, it was hard to identify what actually transpired and where it was coming from. So it did take longer to isolate this which caused more water to come out into the area,” he said.
With the water turned off, crews went to work. They ripped up piles of soaking wet carpet from the flooded residences.
People’s belongings were found outside caked in the mud, likely pulled from the homes by the rushing water.
Trulher luckily lives on the opposite side of the building. Water crept into his garage and barely into his kitchen, but he was dry for the most part. All things considered, he says everyone should feel lucky.
“In pretty good shape for what could have been much worse. Nobody was injured, nobody drowned,” he said.
Pawlenty said the American Red Cross was on scene and did help the residents who were displaced.