Repairs to a major water main break left the normally bustling McCully Shopping Center unusually quiet for a Friday afternoon, with some businesses estimating a loss of as much as a third of their usual business.
“We’re losing a lot of sales,” Amy Manzano, store manager of the center’s 7-Eleven, said Friday afternoon. “Yesterday I lost about 300 customers. Today, very slow. I hope it picks up soon.”
Many restaurants and other businesses closed early Thursday after experiencing low and fluctuating water pressure following the 16-inch water main burst at 5:15 p.m. on McCully Street next to the shopping center, which flooded Kapiolani Boulevard, McCully and area roadways and closed access to the shopping center from McCully.
Water service was restored by noon Friday, and backfilling the deep trench and repaving were expected to be completed by late Friday night. About 13 feet of pipe had to be replaced.
The Board of Water Supply took 31⁄4 hours to turn off the water, resulting in an estimated 200,000 gallons of fresh water flowing freely before it could be shut off at 8:30 p.m., BWS spokesman Keoni Mattos said.
“We don’t know how many were without water service or had low pressure,” he said.
Mattos said various factors caused the delay:
>> First, a troubleshooter was dispatched from East Honolulu and took an hour fighting rush-hour traffic to get to the scene.
>> Once there, “it was difficult to find the main because there was so much water,” Mattos said.
>> Third, care was required in turning off the fragile 59-year-old water main, one of the system’s oldest, Mattos said.
“If done too fast it could cause pressure surges … and could cause vibrations through the pipe and could cause another break down the line,” he said.
BWS had no estimates on how many customers were without service or had low pressure before 8:30 p.m., but after the water was shut off, only one condominium building at 622 McCully St. and a storage company at McCully and Kapiolani were without water.
Several workers expressed concerns news coverage may have discouraged customers from returning this weekend and noted how empty the parking lot was.
Suphawan Self, a waitress at Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, said business was “very bad.”
“We should have been busy,” she said, counting just 12 checks for the afternoon instead of the usual 30 to 40.
Avalon Coley, a waitress at Phuket Thai, said, “I got $6 in tips but usually I get $50.” She said the restaurant received calls asking whether it was open, but “we’ve been really dead today.”
Coley questioned why it took so long to shut off the water. “I think the city needs to take care of these kinds of problems and tend to them before these kinds of things happen,” she said.