Water main burst in Desert Hot Springs floods homes and destroys Christmas presents

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Fourth Street in Desert Hot Springs was closed due to a water main break that flooded many homes in the block on December 26, 2021.

Robert Smith woke up around 1.30am on Sunday when his neighbor knocked frantically on his door. Her home, along with most of the others on her block of Fourth Street in Desert Hot Springs, was flooded due to a water main break.

At least 10 homes near Fourth Street and Mesquite Avenue were hit by the rupture just after Christmas, with several residents reporting that water from the flood reached about 18 inches inside their homes. Others said it was knee-deep.

“We had just had Christmas, so everything we bought and put under the tree is ruined,” Smith said. “My godchildren were there, but they had left before the flood. Imagine [if] they were [still] sleep on the living room floor.”

No one was reported injured in the flooding. At Smith’s, his four dogs are also unharmed.

One of Robert and Anna Marie Smith's dogs runs through flooding inside their home caused by a burst water main in Desert Hot Springs.

One of Robert and Anna Marie Smith’s dogs runs through flooding inside their home caused by a burst water main in Desert Hot Springs.

Marion Champion, program and public affairs manager for the Mission Springs Water District, said the main cause of the break was the roots of a tamarisk tree.

“There was a tamarisk whose roots grew into our system and caused the break. These tamarisk roots go very deep into the ground, so they damaged one of the water pipes deep under the ground , one of our 12-inch water pipes,” says Champion.

Fourth Street and surrounding streets remained closed to traffic as of noon Sunday.

The water district said around 1 p.m. that water service had been restored and staff were continuing 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 that the water district and city ​​officials were still determining the extent of the damage.

Tim Leaper's apartment remains flooded after a water main broke in Desert Hot Springs early Sunday morning.

Tim Leaper’s apartment remains flooded after a water main broke in Desert Hot Springs early Sunday morning.

Champion told the Desert Sun that five families who had been living in an apartment complex on Fourth Street had been moved and relocated to local hotels. But a resident of the apartments, Tim Leaper, said he was unable to get to the Aqua Soleil hotel because he did not have a car.

“We are guaranteed a night at a local hotel, but they don’t offer transportation,” Leaper said. His only means of transport – a new electric bike he bought three weeks ago – was destroyed by the flood. He said he would need a car to transport his belongings and his dog to the hotel, which is about two miles away.

A brand new e-bike is damaged in a flood due to a broken water main in Desert Hot Springs.

A brand new e-bike is damaged in a flood due to a broken water main in Desert Hot Springs.

“I didn’t know what to grab. I ended up grabbing some pants. There was no room to stand up so I got dressed in the tub,” Leaper said of his flooding. apartment. “I saw gifts and toys floating in the street,” he added.

Smith said only residents whose homes were considered still flooded were being moved to hotels.

“I understand that,” he said, but his wife, Anna Marie Smith, said she didn’t know where they would be sleeping on Sunday night because everything inside their home was still damp.

Water from a water main break sits outside an apartment complex on Fourth Street in Desert Hot Springs on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021.

Water from a water main break sits outside an apartment complex on Fourth Street in Desert Hot Springs on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021.

Robert Smith said he felt the city was not doing enough to help. He said city workers had been checking with residents all morning and he had received a call from a water district representative, but by late morning he had no indication if he would receive help.

Champion, from the water district, said his agency was working on it: “We have crews there, clearing debris at the moment. We are working with the city and the emergency team that responded yesterday. evening,” she said. “We will work with our adjusters to try to help those families as well.”

For now, the Smith family has created a GoFundMe account to receive all donations to bit.ly/DHSflood.

This is a developing story.

Eliana Perez covers the eastern Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ElianaPress.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Desert Hot Springs water main break floods homes, ruins gifts

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