Omaha’s Minne Lusa neighborhood soaked, damaged by blasting hydrant

A blasting hydrant is finally off after flooding out an Omaha street for 30 days.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 10:13 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Clean water blasted from a hydrant near 28th and Martin Avenues for 30 days, round the clock -- creating a gutter stream flowing for nearly two blocks.

Sharon Olson worries about her driveway approach.

“I do think it’s eating it away,” Olson said. “I think the driveway is cracking up.”

The soothing sound of constant running water, powering over the effects of erosion.

“It’s tearing our street up,” said homeowner Diane Andrews. “We’ve got sinkholes, we’ve got sewer grates popping up.”

The worst damage can be seen near the hydrant, where a month of water pressure has partially collapsed a section of Martin Avenue -- a busy street, with city and school bus traffic.

“They tore that up there and all of a sudden, they opened the fire hydrants,” a driver said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

MUD tells 6 On Your Side a large valve replacement project nearby required hydrants to be open on both sides of a water main to isolate the line and prevent pressure buildup for workers’ safety.

But crews discovered other valves needed replacing, which caused the flow to last longer than expected, with the job just completed.

That month-long cascading stream of water has been turned off Thursday -- but plenty of gravel and asphalt has been left behind. Shoveling all that off is too much of a strain for an 81-year-old like Olson.

“Unless I get somebody to do it and I pay them to do it, but so far, I haven’t found someone who wants to do that,” Olson said.

Other homeowners see the damage where the street meets their driveways.

“I want them to come out, and I think they better, please, please, somebody fix this,” said Judy Moe.

Almost two blocks down the street, Marcia Behr says the water damaged her driveway approach.

“Now the water has stopped, that somebody is going to repair our road here,” Behr said. “It’s a black eye in the neighborhood.”

An MUD email says that if a homeowner believes the project caused damage to their property, they should contact its claims department. MUD states it is committed to restoring damages caused by the project.

In a text to 6 On Your Side, MUD Board Chairperson Tanya Cook offered “sincere apologies to customers for the mess created by the work, and MUD will make right whatever it made wrong.”

MUD says the amount of water flushed from the two hydrants involved is difficult to estimate because the flow varied over those 30 days.