A pipe burst and flooded the cellar of a building on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs Friday night. As a result the busy road was closed for several hours so repairs could be made.
The building’s tenants include three families that live in apartments above two ground-floor businesses, Hair by Dana beauty salon and Native Spirit gift shop at 45 and 43 Circuit Avenue, respectively. The cellar is used for storage.
A six-inch fire sprinkler system water line ruptured in the building’s cellar, according to Oak Bluffs Water District superintendent Thomas Degnan. Water department personnel responded to a call from the salon at about 3:45 pm.
“The cellar filled up in less than 10 minutes,’ Mr. Degnan told The Times. “Thank God no one was hurt. An employee said she heard a pop and then what sounded like a train coming through the building. The next thing she knew, water was at her feet, coming up from the cellar.”
Mr. Degnan said the water department responded quickly, but the damage was already done.
“They shut off the valve to the sprinkler system, but it did flood the cellar,” he said. “The water ran out to the Camp Meeting grounds and down Circuit Avenue.”
The Oak Bluffs fire, police and highway departments also responded to the incident.
While the fire department pumped out the flooded cellar, police officers directed pedestrians and motorists from the scene. They also put up roadblocks to close Circuit Avenue to traffic for about two hours as a safety measure while the fire department worked, according to Oak Bluffs Police Sergeant Michael Marchand.
Highway department superintendent Richard Combra Jr. said he inspected the sidewalk near the hair salon and confirmed that it was not damaged or undermined from the flooding beneath it.
The water department advised restaurants on Circuit Avenue to refrain from serving tap water for a few hours because of possible discoloration caused by the disruption to the water main.
“You get a huge amount of water moving in one direction, and it tends to shake up the system, so you have to allow time to flush it out,” Mr. Degnan said.
“The town’s water main is fine,” he added. “The problem is in the system inside the building.”
“We’re still trying to figure it out now,” Mr. Degnan said. “My goal is to ensure the safety of people who live and work in the building. The insurance people and lawyers can figure out who takes responsibility afterwards. We’re working together for a resolution.”
This week in the aftermath of the flood, the tenants, building owner Gene Erez, and insurance adjustors are trying to sort out their respective claims.
In response to phone call and email requests from The Times for more information on Monday, Hair by Dana staff relayed a message from business owner Dana Hughes in which she referred all questions to her insurance adjustor, David Burke of Burke Public Insurance Adjustors.
“The water level was approximately six inches higher than the first floor,” Mr. Burke told The Times in a phone conversation Tuesday. “The entire basement flooded, and the hot water tanks were floating at one point. Sand from the ground had covered products stored there by the commercial tenants.”
“It’s going to take awhile to put that back together,” Mr. Burke added. “Dana’s looking for a temporary new location, and while she’s going through this transition, she doesn’t want to lose her customer base. She’s concerned about that and hoping all her clients will continue to communicate with her and make arrangements to stay with her.”
Mr. Burke said he reviewed Ms. Hughes’s insurance policy and that she has adequate coverage. Mr. Burke said questions remain about insurance coverage for the building owner, who he declined to name.
One of the tenants confirmed it is Mr. Erez. He could not be reached for comment.
Residential tenant Angie Francis called The Times on Tuesday to express her frustration about the lack of progress since the flood. Although she and her fiancé and seven-month baby live on the second floor and did not suffer personal property damage from the flood, they were forced to leave Friday because there was no power, gas, or water on in the building. Nothing has changed, Ms. Francis reported.
“Nobody’s given us a solid answer as to when we’ll be back in the building,” she said. “We’re at the Island Inn now but we have to find an alternative place to stay this weekend, because the rooms are all booked.”
Ms. Francis said she has renter’s insurance and her company’s adjustor would make a visit Wednesday to assess the situation and determine coverage for alternative living expenses.