Series of main breaks send West Plaza neighbors scrambling to protect homes from flooding waters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A series of main breaks sent water cascading into basements in the West Plaza neighborhood on Monday.

Twelve-inch water mains broke between 48th and 49th Street on State Line Rd., Wyoming and Mercier Street.

The water main break at 49th and Mercier did the most destruction to property, where it looked like a river had overflowed its banks. West Plaza homeowners were using mulch as makeshift sandbags to try to protect their homes from the water main break at the top of the hill. But there was nothing people living closest to the gushing water could do.

“The water was chest deep in his driveway going into his garage," Whitten Pell said of his neighbor.

Local artist John Kline sifted through about 50 paintings to see what he could salvage from his family home. He says about eight inches of water entered the basement.

“I’d say half of them are ruined with mold and being too wet and some are warped," Kline said.

Private restoration crews pumped water from flooded basements, while KC Water dug several feet below the pavement to the section of 12-inch main that burst below. They were still on scene at 10 p.m. nearly 12 hours after the water main break attempting to restore water to customers. In all, 95 customers were affected.

KC Water confirms it’s the third time in the past year that water main has burst on that block.

“Three different times over less than a year period that street has literally exploded," Pell said.

The section of water main at Mercier is nearly 100 years old. KC Water isn’t sure if the other two breaks in the West Plaza area are related, but say the mains are just as old.

Kline’s paintings date back just 20 years, but hold sentimental value telling the story of his life.

“It rained every day so I’d have to wear a poncho," Kline said of a self-portrait he painted in Seattle.

Now neighbors left wondering the next time they could need a poncho or at least a good pair of boots to get through their home. Crews will have to return to the area to fill in the hole and repave the road.

A KC Water spokesperson said they will be looking at whether there’s a bigger problem that needs to be addressed because of the repeated breaks along the main.