SAN MATEO, Calif. - A 12-inch cast iron water transmission main break in San Mateo on Thursday sent brown water spewing throughout streets and homes in a residential neighborhood, and closed a nearby church and school for the day because of all the flooding in the basement.
Police Sgt. Amanda Von Glahn said 300 gallons of water per minute was being released for about three hours, until it was capped about 9 a.m. "It actually lifted the sidewalk," she said.
The 6:30 a.m. break ruptured near Central Park at South El Camino and Notre Dame Avenue, and shut down two lanes of southbound El Camino at 9th Avenue, police said. The rushing water flooded a number of surrounding streets, including Aragon and Notre Dame.
Residents like Rosario Xolocotzi was shocked. His car was flooded with the sudden outburst of water. "All this water was coming up. A lot of water."
The immediate cause wasn't known.
St. Matthew's Catholic School and Church said it was closed for the day as the basement was flooded with several feet of water, causing extensive damage.
"The good news is it happened before any students were arriving to school. Everyone was safe and no one was hurt," said Beckie Caldwell, a school administrator at St. Matthew's. The new gym at the school suffered some damage, according to Father Dominic Lee. The school said it would remain closed on Friday.
"I was a little excited to miss school but it is really destructive what the floods have done," said seventh grader Phillip Grele.
SkyFox flew overhead, showing aerials of brown water flooding residential streets. Crews were busy down below sucking up water with hoses.
St. Matthews catholic church was also damaged. Water has to be removed from the pews. Church leaders were not sure if it would be ready for Sunday services.
The blast of rushing water damaged at least five homes in the area including a family room at one home that took in five feet of dirty water.
The California Water Service says the ruptured pipe was installed in 1955. But it isn't sure if age was a factor in the break.
"We don't have any indication that we have had failures on this main before. We will take a look and see if age, condition of pipe, soil conditions would lead to some risks or concerns," said Ross Moilan, district manager for the California Water Service.
Work crews hoped to repair the ruptured water main by Thursday evening.