NEW ORLEANS -- The broken pipe flooded streets and vehicles in at least 15 blocks. Honking horns and frantic knocks on doors were a dawn wake up call to a world gone wet.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it," said Joe Perdue.
"Oh my Lord, I hope my car is not in a hole or something," said Alan Dalton, smiling ironically as he looked at where his car sat in the hole. "And when you look out there, that's a nice car? It was, yes."
Alan Dalton parked his car where he always parked it, and the pipe broke right underneath it, partly submerging the vehicle he treasured.
"It's a little unbelievable that a water main could bust anywhere in the city except for directly underneath my car and swallow it," said Dalton. "And so, just got to deal with it as it comes."
The pipe is believed to be 85-90 years old.
But then came the tough part, the repairs. What was left after the water receded was sea of mud kicked out of the hole by the force of the water, where crews could get trapped in there so they'll have to take extra precautions.
"The crew is gonna be here probably all afternoon and into the evening, and probably late tonight working on this repair," said Sewerage and Water Board General Superintendent Joe Becker.
First there was the challenge of getting Alan's car out of the hole. The tow truck got stuck in the mud, a back hoe had to rescue it, forming a chain of vehicles that Alan watched sadly.
Then there was the challenge of stabilizing the sea of mud so crews could get to the broken pipe, and repair it. They will keep using the nearly century old pipe, saying there's no money to replace it.
"That's not in the cards at all right now," said Becker. "We don't have a situation where we have enough money to start repairing all of the pipe that is 90 years old. We have a situation where we have enough money to maintain those pipes, and make sure they're function 100 percent of the time, as close as we can get. "