Huge Water Main Break Traps Drivers

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Maryland Drivers headed to work Tuesday on a suburban Washington road were soon surrounded by water after an old pipe gave way.

The giant 5-and-a-half foot water main ruptured around 8 a.m. and within minutes, had literally turned River Rd. into a raging river.

"All of a sudden the rushing water started to build. Boulders came down," one driver recalled. "I tried to steer but I couldn't. The fire department came and got me out."

Emergency crews needed to quickly rescue at least nine people-- No easy task with the pipe gushing 135 million gallons of water per minute and temperatures around 20 degrees.

Cameras captured dramatic scenes like a precarious boat rescuing two women from their vehicle.

"We had to rig these boats with ropes," one rescuer said.

On shore, rescuers used more ropes to pull the women to safety.

"One of the people that I was able to talk to, said she had water up to her knees in her car," Pete Piringer of the Montgomery County Fire Department said. "She was sitting in her car, water was rising, but we were able to get to her quickly."

For viewers watching live on TV, perhaps the most nail-biting rescue came shortly before 9 a.m.

Crews inside a helicopter dangled a large wire basket near a mini-van stranded in four feet of rushing, frigid water.

Inside, a woman and child loaded their belongings in the basket before carefully climbing aboard.

Area hospitals treated several motorists for hypothermia, but no serious injuries were reported.

Authorities say that while River Rd. is usually a major traffic artery, Christmas week helped to keep many drivers off the road Tuesday and out of harm's way.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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