Cleanup underway at site of East Falls shopping plaza water main break

 The inside of the Ross clothing store at Bakers Centre. (Neema Roshania Patel/WHYY)

The inside of the Ross clothing store at Bakers Centre. (Neema Roshania Patel/WHYY)

Cleanup was underway on Friday morning at the Bakers Centre shopping plaza in East Falls after a 48-inch water main break caused major flooding. 


The main break was the second such occurence in less than two years at the shopping center. Seven million gallons of water flooded into stores and the parking lot on Thursday, evacuating seven stores and about 100 customers.

According to the Philadelphia Water Department, there are four 48-inch water mains at this location. The one that broke Thursday is not the same one the burst last year.

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By Friday morning, many of the stores in Bakers Centre had reopened, shoppers had returned, and the parking lot had been drained.

ShopRite was among the businesses that were open for business Friday morning. Sandy Brown, spokeswoman for Brown Superstores, which manages the East Falls ShopRite, said the store was lucky to escape with minimal damage. That’s compared to last year’s water main break, at least. 

“Last year, the way it broke brought water flooding right into the store,” she explained. “This year, it went past it, so management was able to set up a barricade to keep it out.” 

Some stores, however, said they would be cleaning up for days to come. Ross employees took turns standing at the entrance of the discount clothing store to shoo away customers. 

Brandy Young, who works in loss prevention, said the store would be closed for at least the next three to four days and has sustained “significant merchandise damage.”

Young was on her break at the dollar store a few doors down when she saw the water main break happen. At first, she said, it was just a trickle. Very quickly though, everything was flooding. 

“All you see is water,” she said. 

Her car was also damaged in the flooding. 

Brown said the back-to-back water main breaks are a symptom of Philadelphia’s challenged infrastructure. 

“It is what it is,” she said. 

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