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Frankford businesses deal with fallout from water-main break

A gas station's pumps were still down due to electronic problems from flooding.

A burst water main floods a Frankford intersection Monday morning. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)
A burst water main floods a Frankford intersection Monday morning. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)Read more

AS FOR MANY people working Christmas Day, things were fairly slow yesterday for attendant Ashwani Kumar at the Riggins gas station and convenience store at Frankford and Torresdale avenues in Frankford.

But in Kumar's case, the holiday wasn't the only explanation. The station's six pumps were still inoperable - covered with plastic bags - two days after a 48-inch water main more than a century old burst, flooding several businesses with millions of gallons of water.

"Almost everything is [on an] electronic system, so all electronic system is dead," Kumar said from a glass-enclosed booth inside the store.

The station usually sells between 3,500 and 4,000 gallons of gasoline a day, he said. Once the pumps are back up and running, city inspectors will have to give the green light. Kumar said it is unclear how long that could take. "Maybe one week, maybe 10 days," he said.

The gas station is one of many businesses along the commercial stretch dealing with fallout from Monday's eruption. Most were closed yesterday, but several used-car lots nearby have reported extensive damage to vehicles, with the total loss expected to be in the millions of dollars.

Under state law, the city's maximum payout for such events is $500,000. A proposal from state Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, to raise that amount is pending before a Senate committee.

Although the pumps at Riggins were not being used yesterday, Kumar was keeping a close eye on them. About three years ago, he said, someone vandalized a pump when the station was closed for renovations.

"So now I can't close," he added while tending to customers inside the store.

Part of Torresdale Avenue will remain blocked off for months as crews work to clean up the area, repair the buckled road and fix the main, which goes down 20 feet and was built in 1907.