School Closings And Delays

Water Main Break Could Disrupt Service to Thousands of Customers

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SCRANTON -- Thousands of homes and businesses may be faced with several days without water because of a huge water main break in Scranton.

The break in the 36" main happened Wednesday morning on River Street. Water was still gushing from an area in the middle of the street Thursday.

Water crews won’t know what the break looks like until all the water clears from this area and we won’t know exactly how many customers are affected for the next 24 hours.

But officials are preparing for tens of thousands of people to be without water for days.

Jim Casella came home from work Wednesday to water in his street. Now the stream is significant enough that his car can't leave his driveway.

"It is River Street now, for real."

The 500 block of River Street is the site of a water main break that will affect people far beyond the spot in south Scranton. To repair the large transmission line, Pennsylvania American Water officials shut off service to

“We have buckets already filled. We already went to the store for bottled water. We both work for the Hilton here in Scranton so if we need showers, we were invited to come back to work,” Casella said.

While work crews started dealing with the root of the problem, Pennsylvania American Water started dealing with the problems sure to come. Water buffaloes were placed in areas where customers might be affected.

A fire station in south Scranton is one of four places with water buffaloes set up inside for people to get water. There's also a Pennsylvania American Water representative there to help and answer questions you may have.

The water company won’t know what it's dealing with until all the water is out of the mains, and crews won't know how many people will lose water either, putting municipalities in a confusing spot.

“Actually, the very first thing that went through my head is how are we going to fight a fire in the event that we have no water? That was the first thing,” said Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright.

Mayor Courtright says fire department officials came up with a contingency plan. Tanker trucks from elsewhere in the county are on standby if there's a fire.

“In 25 years, I've never experienced anything like this. And hopefully I won’t have to experience it right now, hopefully this won’t happen. But, the citizens of Scranton should know that we're doing what we can to be prepared,” said Acting Fire Chief Pat Desarno.

Because there's still so much, the water company doesn't know about the break itself. Workers don't know how long people will be without water, but it could be days.

One official said once the break is patched, it could take 24 hours for the system to fill with water again.

Pennsylvania American Water has set up water buffaloes at four locations.


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