A carnivalesque atmosphere took place at UCLA on Tuesday afternoon as a 30-inch water main busted a 15-foot hole in a street, sending millions of gallons of water rushing onto campus and nearby roads and stranding hundreds of people whose cars were parked in water-damaged parking structures.
Photos on social media showed students sitting in chest-high water in a flooded stairwell as if it was a hot tub, playing in ankle-deep water and walking with their pants rolled up as crews worked to cap the 93-year-old water pipe.
"It was crazy, cars are flooded, people are stuck here," said one student, who left a campus book store to go skimboarding on a flooded field.
The rising water prevented some students from getting to their dorms, cars and classes. Firefighters provided escorts in some of the more heavily flooded areas.
"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," said another student, Aaliyah Ricks."I almost slipped a couple of times."
Firefighters performed five rescue operations, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No injuries were reported.
"Trying to get the cars out was very hectic, it took a long time," said Doug Waters, a third-year economics student. "It was not like a flash flood and it rose immediately, it was more...slowly rising."
The ruptured water main released 9 million gallons of fresh water in the first two hours, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said.
UCLA student Natalie Bautista and her family were unable to get to their family minivan parked in Parking Structure 7 Tuesday night. Her mother Lidia drover from San Bernardino to see her daughter and normally parks in a different structure, but wanted to be close to Pauley Pavilion Tuesday.
"Oh my gosh I just want to go home now," Lidia said.
Bautista's family is staying with her in her Westwood apartment Tuesday night.
The water main was shut down slowly and gradually to prevent shock to the system and further damage.
The surrounding neighborhood was also affected.
"I have no water, and nor do my neighbors. I called a few of them to see what's going on," said Barbara Dobkin, who lives in a neighborhood just west of UCLA.
Water was restored to nearby residents by Tuesday evening.
Details about what caused the water main break were not immediately clear.
— RMG News (@RMGNews) July 30, 2014