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'This Is A Cluster': Massive Water Main Break Floods Houston's East Loop

Lucio Vasquez | Houston Public Media
Officials wade through flood waters caused by a burst water main near Houston's East Loop Thursday.

Updated 2:41 p.m. CT

Parts of the city were left without water and drivers were left stranded standing on their cars to stay dry, as a massive water main break flooded a swath of the East Loop Thursday.

The 96-inch water main near Fidelity and North Carolina streets in the Galena Park area broke just after noon Thursday and flowed onto the southbound lanes near the Ship Channel Bridge, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Texas Highway 225 at 610 was also shut down, Gonzalez added.

Contractors were on site isolating the break and draining the lines, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. Turner announced he would update the public from the site around 2:30 p.m.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo advised residents to conserve water, and said she activated the county’s Office of Emergency Management to support the city response.

Water was out or otherwise low across the city, with reports of outages at Rice Village and in Montrose, as well as at the universities of Houston and St. Thomas, which both announced they would close for the remainder of the day Thursday. The City of Houston told UH that water would not be restored until late Thursday night at the earliest.

Houston Independent School District released a statement Thursday saying most of the rest of the school day would continue as normal:

As a result of the major water main break in East Houston that has impacted multiple areas of the city, after-school activities are cancelled today – Thursday, February 27. However, all playoff games will be held as scheduled. Campus dismissals will be held as normal. If needed, bus drivers will use alternate routes. HISD maintenance staff will also inspect buildings as a precautionary measure to ensure all systems are functioning properly once water is restored.

Harris Health System closed seven outpatient facilities and two main administrative offices “(i)n an abundance of caution for patient and employee safety.” Those include:

  • Casa de Amigos Health Center, 1615 N. Main St.
  • Elvin Franklin Jr. Administrative Building, 2525 Holly Hall St.
  • Gulfgate Health Center, 7550 Office City Drive
  • Harris Health Dental Center, 5230 Griggs Road at the Palm Center
  • Kirby Administrative Building, 9200 Kirby Drive
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center, 3550 Swingle Road
  • Monroe Clinic, 8539 Gulf Freeway
  • Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center–C.E. Odom, 5516 Lockwood Drive
  • Sunset Heights Clinic, 1623 Airline Drive, Suite 100-B

Other closures include:

  • Legacy Community Health Fifth Ward and Santa Clara clinics both closed, and said they would reopen Friday at normal hours.
  • The Herbert W. Gee Municipal Courthouse closed at 2 p.m., and would reopen Friday morning unless otherwise notified. People scheduled for municipal court after 2 p.m. Thursday were told to reset their cases in person at any of the city’s six court locations beginning at 8 a.m., Friday.
  • Two voting centers — Houston Community College Southeast at 6960 Rustic St. and Young Neighborhood Library at 5107 Griggs Road — both closed Thursday, Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman said.
  • The Houston Zoo announced it was closed for the remainder of the day, and was working with the city to see if it could reopen Friday.

The Houston Police Department dispatched high-water vehicles and additional personnel, and advised drivers to avoid the area.

Check Houston Public Media for updates.