‘Why do I have to go through this?’: Water main break floods Kensington streets, leaving damaged homes in its wake

The scene of a water main break near Fourth and Hewson streets in Kensington.

The scene of a water main break near Fourth and Hewson streets in Kensington. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A major water main break in North Philadelphia could cause Kensington-area residents headaches for weeks to come.

The 20-inch main break occurred near Fourth and Berks streets around 6:45 a.m. Thursday, according to John DiGiulio of the Philadelphia Water Department.

DiGiulio said the main dates back to the late 1800s.

“There is no customer impact to water delivery or water service at this time, and we don’t expect any going forward,” DiGiulio said.

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Though crews were able to shut off the water around 9 a.m., the break still damaged cars and homes, including Maria Orona’s home on Fourth Street.

Orona had reported a drop in pressure to the water department on Monday.

“No water, flooded basement. We can’t take a bath, we can’t eat. Who’s going to make up for that?” she said.

Crews are pictured at the scene of a water main break near Fourth and Hewson streets
Officials from the Philadelphia Water Department work to remove water from a collapsed road near Fourth and Hewson streets after a water main break in Kensington on June 23, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Orona is a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, which is seeing major new home construction and remodeling. She is worried that she and her family could be displaced by the flooding, and places blame on the city for not listening to complaints.

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“If I don’t pay my water, they’ll cut my water off. If I don’t pay my taxes, they want to put a line on my property. I’m up-to-date on everything,” Orona said. “Why do I have to go through this? If they were warned that something was going on, they just overlooked it.“

Crews are pictured at the scene of a water main break near Fourth and Hewson streets
A water main break near Fourth and Hewson streets caused a section of roadway to partially collapse on June 23, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

DiGiulio said the water department is researching the complaint, but the break could cause longer-term disruption to the neighborhood, possibly for weeks. The street must first be excavated to find the exact location of the main break. Then repairs will have to be made, he said.

At least six homeowners needed their basements pumped out. City officials are going door to door to check properties under construction in the area to see if they have been impacted by the flooding.

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