Harrison Avenue Floods out Tuesday, Displacing Laconia, SoWa Residents

A rush of water came pouring down Harrison Avenue Tuesday night around 9:18 p.m., enveloping everything in its path – inundating Laconia Lofts’ parking garage and turning SoWa into a lake.

All Photos Courtesy the Boston Fire Department
At the corner of Perry Street, a sinkhole formed and cars were falling into it.

Boston District Fire Chief Neil Mullane reported that a water main had broken in the area of 500 Harrison Ave. in the South End Tuesday night. The street buckled and a sink hole developed. Several cars were underwater on the street, as well as in the SoWa lot. Several of the streets in and around Harrison also flooded heavily.

Officials said the water main had been installed in 1950 and had been rehabilitated in the 1970s.

Ken Smith, president of the East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) and a displaced resident from Laconia Lofts, said it was the worst possible situation for many in the midst of a lock-down pandemic.

“We found out about 10 p.m. and started to find out the water main boke and Harrison was full of water,” he said. “It completely filled the 500 Harrison parking lot where SoWa is and ruined the cars there. Laconia had to be evacuated. The water go so high in our garage it was up to hip level and two-thirds upon the cars. All the cars in our parking garage are destroyed.”

Smith said he didn’t know for sure, but they felt it was a pretty good guess that the torrential rains on Monday put pressure on the water main and caused the break.

“There’s a good chance that storm caused the water main to break,” he said. “That’s what I’m thinking. We don’t know that for sure, but there’s a good chance that’s the cause.”

Smith said about 65 to 70 of the 90 units at Laconia had to be evacuated, along with renters from the GTI/SoWa properties. Most, he said, went to the AC Hotel where Elizabeth Beutel helped to give a neighbor rate to everyone and brought in emergency staff to help situation the evacuees.

By morning, they still had no power at Laconia, and Smith said they were waiting for the Fire Department to give them the okay to return home.

Meanwhile, there was considerable damage reported to the Aquitaine Group’s Cinquecento Restaurant on Harrison Avenue was completely flooded.

Owner Jeff Gates had talked with members of the community and reported there was water standing in the restaurant.

Both EBNA and the Union Park Neighborhood Association (UPNA) called on neighbors to patronize the groups’ other restaurants in the neighborhood.

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