Robert Smith woke up around 1:30 a.m. Sunday to his neighbor pounding frantically on his door. Her home, along with most of the others on her Fourth Street block in Desert Hot Springs, was inundated with a broken water line.
At least 10 homes near Fourth Street and Mesquite Avenue were affected by the rupture just after Christmas, with several residents reporting that flood water reached about 18 inches inside their homes. Others said it was knee deep.
“We had just celebrated Christmas, so everything we bought and put under the tree is in ruins,” Smith said. “My godchildren were there, but they were gone before the flood. Imagine [if] they were [still] sleep on the living room floor. “
No one has been reported injured in the flooding. At Smith’s house, his four dogs are also unharmed.
Marion Champion, program and public affairs manager for the Mission Springs Water district, said the main cause of the rupture was from the roots of a tamarisk tree.
“There was a tamarisk tree whose roots grew in our system and caused the rupture. These tamarisk roots sank very deep into the ground, so they damaged one of the water pipes deep under it. ground, one of our 12-inch water pipes, ”says Champion.
Fourth Street and surrounding streets remained closed to traffic at noon on Sunday.
The water district said at around 1 p.m. that water service had been restored and staff continued to complete backfilling, restoration and street cleaning activities in the affected area. He noted that “at no time did the water pressure or water levels drop to a point that would require a boil water advisory,” but the water district and officials of the city were still determining the extent of the damage.
Champion told the Desert Sun that five families living in an apartment complex on Fourth Street have been moved and relocated to local hotels. But apartment resident Tim Leaper said he couldn’t get to the Aqua Soleil hotel because he didn’t have a car.
“We are guaranteed a night at a local hotel, but they don’t offer transportation,” Leaper said. His only form of transportation – a new electric bike he bought three weeks ago – has been ruined by the flooding. He said he would need a car to transport his belongings and his dog to the hotel, which is about two miles away.
“I didn’t know what to take. I ended up grabbing pants. There was no room to stand, so I dressed in the tub,” Leaper said of the flooding. his flat. “I saw gifts and toys floating in the street,” he added.
Smith said only residents whose homes were considered still flooded were being relocated to hotels.
“I understand that,” he said, but his wife, Anna Marie Smith, said she didn’t know where they would sleep on Sunday night because everything inside their house was still damp.
Robert Smith said he felt the city was not doing enough to help. He said city workers had checked with residents all morning and received a call from a representative of the water district, but by late morning he had no indication that he was he would receive help.
Champion, from the water district, said his agency was working there: “We have crews there, cleaning up the debris right now. We are working with the city and the emergency team which is intervened last night, “she said. “We will work with our adjusters to try to help these families as well.”
For now, the Smith family has created a GoFundMe account to receive donations at bit.ly/DHSflood.
This is a developing story.
Eliana Perez covers the east of the Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ElianaPress.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Desert Hot Springs Main Waterline Rupture Floods Homes, Ruins Present