Residents attempt to salvage belongings after Salt Lake water main break

Local News

It could be weeks before a Salt Lake family can return home.

Wednesday’s break on Manuwa Drive filled a house with water that was ankle-deep after just 20 minutes, according to one resident.

The Honolulu Fire Department and Board of Water Supply responded, but it took crews nearly two hours to turn off the water while the house was pelted with rock and debris.

Residents were told to evacuate the home and stayed at Best Western’s The Plaza Hotel Wednesday night.

We caught up with the man who filmed video of the water and debris pouring into a second-story room.

James Black, who lives at the home with his wife and two young daughters, told KHON2 they’re usually in the room at that time of day.

When the break occurred, Black says he was in the other room and his daughters were just feet away when debris, at times the size of baseballs, pelted the windows and roof of his father-in-law’s house.

“My first reaction was to get my daughters and my wife safe,” he said. “I had no idea what it was, from a bomb? It could have been anything. My in-laws thought it was a tsunami or an earthquake.”

BWS crews worked through the night to fix the water main break, but Thursday was all about family members putting their lives back together.

Black says everything his family owns was in these rooms. Most of it now sits on the porch to dry.

He managed to save some things that he says are irreplaceable, like mementos from his late grandfather.

“This is my grandpa’s rib recipe, nothing special, but he hand-wrote it,” Black said.

Black showed us around the home, pointing out glass still on the ground. He thanked firefighters who helped with the cleanup.

KHON2 asked if he knew how much he lost.

“Just us, personally, I have no idea. I don’t have a clue,” he replied. “In retrospect,it doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy that my kids are safe and my wife is safe and we can live another day.”

KHON2 asked BWS for more information on the water main break and received an email from information officer Shawn Nakamoto that said: “We won’t know for a few weeks what might have caused the break. Records show that the pipe was installed in 1953 and this was the first main break. Our risk manager met with the Pham family last night and has started the claim process.”

We reached out again to get information about the claims process, the number of property damage claims due to main breaks and the amount of the payouts, but did not receive a response.

KHON2 was also turned away from BWS’ office and subsequently received the email: “I do not appreciate that you showed up unannounced at our office today expecting to gain an interview.”

We were instructed to submit a public records request under the Uniform Information Practices Act for the information.

Residents say they will be staying in a hotel room for the foreseeable future, and are scheduled to meet with a BWS representative Friday morning.

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