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St. Louis Park water main breaks for second time in two weeks

4 June 2022

A water main in a St. Louis Park neighborhood broke Friday night for the second time in two weeks, flooding some owners twice.

“It feels like a nightmare — the same thing happening two weeks later,” said Susan Boen, whose home was hit by both water main breaks. “I couldn’t believe this was happening.”

The 66-year-old cast iron pipe broke shortly after 11:30 p.m. between Texas and Sumter avenues on Minnetonka Boulevard, according to the city of St. Louis Park. Water was shut off at midnight and the water main was being repaired Saturday.

The city is still assessing whether the pipe burst in the same spot or nearby, as well as how many homes were damaged, said Kim Keller, St. Louis Park’s city manager.

A water main break on May 21 in the Texa-Tonka neighborhood flooded 55 homes with up to 3 feet of water.

Complaints of flooding from the first blowout came in around 5 a.m. May 21, and the city said the water was shut off shortly after 7 a.m. But residents have said water continued to fill basements for hours.

This time around, the city turned off the water more quickly than in the first rupture.

“We had 16 inches across the whole basement the first time and 5 inches across the whole basement this time,” said Dimi Lalos, who lives with his wife and two young children on the 2900 block of Rhode Island Avenue S.

Just a month ago, the family bought a brick Tudor home, which came with a finished basement — living room, bedroom, bathroom — and a laundry room. It was all trashed in the first flood.

Lalos quickly bought a new furnace, water heater, sump pump and washer and dryer, only to have them get swamped again Friday. “I assume they are all done again or at least have a very shortened lifespan.”

The new mechanical items cost about $23,000, a big chunk of the estimated $71,000 bill to rebuild Lalos’ basement. “It is just incredibly frustrating,” he said.

Boen, who lives next door to Lalos, also expects a repair bill in the tens of thousands of dollars. She, too, had a finished basement bedroom, bathroom and living space — all ruined, and covered Saturday in a dirt film from receding waters.

Boen noted that most homes in her neighborhood are small, and so they derive significant value from finished basements. “I think we lost half of the value of our houses.”

Lalos and Boen both have insurance policies that will cover part of the flood damage. Beyond that, like others swamped by the pipe breach, they are looking to the city for aid.

St. Louis Park has an insurance arrangement with the Minnesota League of Cities that it’s working to apply to flood damage, said city manager Keller. The policy has a cap of $2 million, but that would be spread out among many families whose homes were damaged.

Also, after the May 21 pipe rupture, the St. Louis Park City Council approved $300,000 in aid for residents most needing help with cleanup costs.

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