Birmingham & Black Country

Wednesbury flood: Road turned into river by digger hitting pipe

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Media captionBurst pipe in Wednesbury turns road into river

A contractor on a mechanical digger accidentally smashed through a water pipe causing flooding that damaged homes and submerged cars.

Engineers have been working overnight to repair the burst main in Leabrook Road, in Wednesbury, Sandwell.

Water levels reached 3m (9.8ft) after a 2m (6.5ft) hole was made in the pipe at about 10:30 BST on Thursday.

Three schools remained shut on Friday, Sandwell Council said. Surrounding roads reopened at about 09:00.

Water supplies were lost for about two hours, South Staffordshire Water said, but the repairs have since finished and the supply is back on.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption A contractor in a digger for Western Power Distribution broke through the water main on Thursday
Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Police drone pictures captured the extent of the flooding

The floodwater has left debris and mud in the road, along with damaged cars.

"It was quite a spectacular eruption," Pete Aspley, from South Staffordshire Water, said.

"It was a contractor working on the electricity network on a mechanical digger that physically hit the main and led to catastrophic failure."

Image caption Contractors worked through the night to repair the damage
Image caption The hole in the pipe was 2m (6.5ft) in size

The digger, being used by a worker from Western Power Distribution, hit a 24in mains pipe.

Ten cars were left submerged in the road and fire service divers were sent to the scene.

The firm isolated the power supply at the local sub-station as a precautionary measure in case floodwater reached it.

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Resident Adelaide Millerchip described what happened as "chaos and pandemonium".

"It's just been like I've been living a dream," she said.

"We could see it rising and then the firefighters said it was time to evacuate."

Image copyright Belinda Owen
Image caption Firefighters told residents to leave their homes for safety

Christ Church School, Moorlands Primary School and Joseph Turner Primary School remained closed on Friday.

Leabrook Road and Black Country New Road reopened earlier after repair work in Leabrook Road North was completed.

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Media captionThe floodwater reached up to 3m in places

Residents have been advised to keep running their taps to allow water to run clear after a surge in the system discoloured some supplies.

South Staffordshire Water has been liaising with residents over the damage caused to their cars and homes.

Western Power Distribution said it was investigating what had happened and any insurance claims were initially being dealt with through the water company.

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