After riding out flood, neighbors turn worry to insurance

Philadelphia Water Department workers start to make repairs Monday after a water main broke at 21st and Bainbridge streets Sunday night, causing flooding and a massive sink hole. Residents whose homes suffered damage because of the break wondered Monday whether they would receive reimbursements from the city or their insurance companies. Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Water Department workers start to make repairs Monday after a water main broke at 21st and Bainbridge streets Sunday night, causing flooding and a massive sink hole. Residents whose homes suffered damage because of the break wondered Monday whether they would receive reimbursements from the city or their insurance companies. Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 25, 2012

SOUTHWEST Center City residents who evacuated their homes Sunday night to escape the flood and the 15-to-20-foot-deep sink hole caused by a water-main break are now facing another struggle: fighting with the city and insurance companies to get reimbursed for the damage.

Victor Agiv, owner of La. Va Café, at 21st and South streets, had just closed up shop when he was ordered to evacuate about 9:20 p.m. Sunday. His gas and water were shut off, and he is forbidden to open the café until further notice. Nobody has said whether Agiv will be reimbursed.

"I hope they pay me back for the loss of business, the loss of goods … everything," said Agiv, 38.

The Nicholls family had to evacuate their home near 21st and South. Andrew and Hilary's two sons, Silas, 10, and Toby, 9, were making tea when they saw steam rising from the sink drains.

"We told everyone in the apartment to leave; we packed quite quickly and got out," Silas Nicholls said. "I was scared at first — it took some time for me to take it all in."

The family stayed at Le Meridien hotel Sunday night. However, Andrew Nicholls said his insurance company is uncertain whether the hotel fees will be covered.

Cody Knerr was washing his dishes at 21st and Carpenter streets about 9:15 p.m. when he noticed the water pressure decrease dramatically. The water for the upper two floors cut out completely.

"I was afraid I was going to have to miss work or shower somewhere else," he said.

The night proved troublesome for Knerr, 24. He awoke every couple of hours during the night to ensure the basement was not flooded. His water service, like that of most neighbors, was restored by morning.

The flooding was caused by a 48-inch transmission main that broke at 21st and Bainbridge streets. A sink hole then developed and caused the rupture of a 4-inch gas main at 8:12 a.m. Monday. Water reached 3 feet in some areas, and nearby intersections were closed off.

About 100 people had to be evacuated. Dave Schrader, spokesman for the American Red Cross, said 38 of them had to spend the night elsewhere, including eight who stayed at the Red Cross House at 40th Street and Powelton Avenue. Rooms with cots, kitchens and bathrooms were made available to the three who chose to spend the night at the reception center.

Contact Anna Pan at 215-854-2595 or pana@phillynews.com.

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