LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A 48-inch water main installed in 1893 ruptured early Tuesday, sending millions of gallons of water pouring into the streets in the Shelby Park neighborhood near downtown Louisville.
Water levels have gone down significantly since the water main ruptured near East Oak Street and South Clay Street sometime before 8 a.m.
Not long after the first reports, gushing water could be seen rising to the top of tires on cars parked cars in the neighborhood.
It took Marisa McClintock by surprise.
"There was water rushing down the street," she said. "It wasn't anything like I've ever seen. I've seen floods and stuff, but nothing like this."
At one point, the water was several feet high, coming up over car tires, covering sidewalks and reaching raised porches of homes.
Fire officials said three people were rescued: two passengers trapped in a van and the driver of a JCPS bus.
"All of those people were rescued from imminent danger," said Louisville Fire & Rescue Capt. Sal Melendez.
Melendez said a swift water team then checked the area to make sure people and residences were safe.
"Since then, we have gone around and shut down ... the utilities to the homes that are very, very close to where the rupture occurred," Melendez said.
Melendez estimated six to eight homes lost power.
The intersection at Clay and Oak Streets and Oak Street from Hancock to Shelby Streets are expected to remain closed for the rest of the night.
A KentuckyOne spokesperson said Jewish Hospital, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and Our Lady of Peace were all operating under a precautionary code yellow. At Jewish Hospital, elective procedures were postponed, but emergency procedures continued.
Sts. Mary and Elizabeth and Our Lady of Peace are taking measures to reduce water consumption, but patient care has not been impacted. Centralized command centers have been established at each hospital to ensure that quality patient care is not interrupted.
Officials with University Hospital Hospital in downtown Louisville said they experienced decreased water pressure, but operations continued as normal. A Norton Hospital official said elective surgeries were postponed Tuesday, and staff and patients were given bottled water to drink. Norton anticipated normal operations by Tuesday evening.
Humana closed its downtown offices and asked employees to work from home because of the lack of water pressure, but Tuesday evening a spokesperson said offices would resume operations at normal business hours on Wednesday.
Water levels were receding around lunchtime, but several streets were still flooded for several blocks around the main break, and water pressure remains low in several areas in and around downtown. Louisville Water Company Spokesperson Kelley Dearing-Smith said normal water pressure should be restored soon. All valves routing water to the site were shut off around 6:15 p.m.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Sojoun Community Church at 1303 South Shelby Street if residents need a place to stay.
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