Water main break forces Fort Worth family out

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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A Fort Worth family was still staying at a hotel Monday after a water main burst in front of their house, shot out chunks of asphalt that tore through their roof and flooded several rooms Friday.

The explosion tore apart portions of ceiling, damaged drywall in at least three rooms and ruined their belongings.

“I’m just thankful that nobody was hurt,” Amanda Manis said Monday. She said the brick house in the 6300 block of Whitman Avenue is unlivable.

The Manis family is staying at a hotel, courtesy of the city of Fort Worth. The city fixed the water lines in front and is helping assess damage and working on cleanup.

The break started as a small hole in the pipe, said Mary Gugliuzza, spokeswoman for the city water and wastewater department. Water blasted through the hole at 60 to 80 pounds per square inch and ripped through the asphalt, she said. Then water and asphalt landed on the roof, went through the ceiling and broke through windows.

Gugliuzza said the city is working with a risk management group and the homeowner’s insurance.

“We realize under state law we have exemption from liability, but we do try to deal with the water and try to get it out of there as quickly as possible,” Gugliuzza said.

She said water main breaks in the city’s 3,500 miles of water lines are a daily occurrence. “They are not all the same kind of breaks,” Gugliuzza said.

Manis said her family met with a city representative who said the city would pay for the hotel and work on the water damage. Other home repairs and replacement of belongings will have to be covered by the Manises’ insurance.

Neighbors worried

The water main break caused an uproar in the neighborhood about 1 p.m. Friday, when neighbors heard a loud noise and saw water running down the street. They started reporting the water main break shortly after 1.

Freddy Schlipf, who lives across the street from the Manis family, said the roar was similar to a B-52 flyover.

Jerry Manis, who was home sick, said he woke to the sound of glass breaking. At first, he thought the house was being broken into. Then he realized that water was peeling the shingles off his roof.

"I was at a loss for words, " he said. "There is nothing you can do. … Just feel helpless."

He ran outside when he realized what was happening, and later called his wife with the bad news.

“The water main burst,” he told her. “It’s flooding our house.”

Schlipf said neighbors watched and documented the break.

“We watched it continually get worse,” he said. “Then it started breaking up the asphalt.”

He said he and the other neighbors watched the geyser form, pointed directly at the Manis house.

“It was like a fire hose going into the Manises’ house,” Schlipf said, adding that it tore through shingles and windows.

Firefighters and the city water department arrived about 2:20 p.m.

Amanda Manis, who is the stepdaughter of local artist Nancy Lamb, said they expect the house to be livable in about a week or week and a half. It has no electricity now, which means no air conditioning as 100-degree weather set in over the weekend.

The three-bedroom house had a plastic tarp on the roof Monday. The son’s room and a hallway were damaged by water, and the ceiling was torn off and joists exposed in the computer room.

The family hopes repairs will be done well before October, when Amanda Manis is due to have a baby.

She said lately she has been resting in the room where the ceiling collapsed.

“What if I were in there and the ceiling collapsed on me?” she said. “It could have been worse.”’

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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