Newtown burst water main clean-up begins

Image source, West Midlands Fire Service
Image caption,
Some residents spoke of the speed at which the water rose

Residents have described a torrent of water gushing into the air and flooding homes when one of Birmingham's "largest" mains in the city burst.

About 100 properties were affected after a major water main burst on Wheeler Street in the Newtown area on Saturday.

Many people had to be rescued by boat and roads were left badly damaged, with huge craters visible.

An investigation is set to begin into what caused the pipe to burst.

Engineers worked through the night to repair what Severn Trent described as "one of the largest" mains in the city.

Local residents told the BBC they first heard the burst main at about 07:00 and later, at its height, water almost reached their waists.

'Getting serious'

"I heard the rush of the water and thought it was rain, but then thought 'how could it be rain?'," Hubert Henry said.

"It was gushing into the air about six or seven foot. I couldn't believe how quickly it was rising. I thought this is getting serious."

Media caption,
Birmingham burst water main leaves homes cut off

After waking up his grandchildren, Mr Henry said he looked out of the window and discovered his whole house was surrounded.

"It started creeping under the door and then I just heard a big gush," he said.

Getting out of the house was a struggle with the weight of water at the door, he added.

"I chucked my grandchildren on the trampoline and chucked my dog on the trampoline. Then I made like a bridge from the trampoline to the neighbour's fence.

"Bricks were being carried down the road and all sorts."

Badly soaked

Water supplies were restored by Saturday night. A new section of pipe has been put in the ground and engineers are hoping to connect it later.

The broken section has been removed and engineers will analyse it to discover what caused the burst.

Repairs to the main are expected to completed soon but it will take considerably longer repair the road, the water firm said.

Wheeler Street is expected to stay closed until Thursday at the earliest, Severn Trent said.

Mr Henry said engineers had worked "tirelessly" to repair the pipe, but the road was in a terrible state.

He said he had noticed the road had seemed to have "sunk" in an area near to where the burst appeared when driving down it last week.

Image source, Severn Trent Water
Image caption,
The pipe, described as one of the biggest in Birmingham, is 30in in diameter (76cm)
Image source, West Midlands Fire Service
Image caption,
Wheeler Street is expected to remain shut for the foreseeable future

Marc Hudson, from West Midlands Fire Service, said the priority soon after the flooding had been to move people out of their homes or make sure they could get on to the first floor.

'Furniture soaked'

Mr Henry's family was put up in a nearby Premier Inn, but it's not clear what will happen tonight.

He said carpets, furniture and paintwork in his home had been badly soaked and it would be some time until ground-floor rooms dried out.

Nobody is thought to have been injured, including several disabled people living on the streets rescued by firefighters.

Image source, @snappersk
Image caption,
Water rescue teams checked vehicles caught in floods
Image caption,
Teams have been assessing the damage caused to the road
Image caption,
The burst pipe was 30 inches in diameter and caused major damage to the road surface

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