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Water main break in Cambridge causes "major flood disaster" at historic site

Last Updated Apr 18, 2018 at 11:44 pm EDT

Photo courtesy of Waterloo Regional Museum

Recovery efforts continue after a massive water main break in downtown Galt, and it seems construction crews are to blame for the incident.

Flooding and flying debris wreaked havoc on Grand Avenue on Tuesday, after a contractor hit the 450 mm water main around 3:30 p.m.

In a statement to 570 NEWS, Susanne Hiller with the City of Cambridge confirms it happened as a contractor was working on a sanitary sewer installation.

“Residents were warned about possible potential discoloured water and flushing instruction. During the incident, a high amount of debris was sent flying up into the air as water was shooting 80 feet in the area.”

Hiller adds that City staff is still assessing overall damage in the area, and the insurance will go through the contractor.

“But the City is helping to assist residents coordinate claims. Thankfully, no one was hurt – but at least two parked cars were damaged and two houses have reported flooding at this point.”

One of the other consequences is extensive flooding at the site of the historic McDougall Cottage.

A statement from the Waterloo Region Museum, which oversees the cottage at 89 Grand Avenue, calls it a “major flood disaster.”

The basement at McDougall was completely submerged, with water right up to the top step, and the patio area was under about three feet of water too.

Manager and Curator Adele Hempel says water went right up to their back porch.

“It went under the floor boards in the kitchen – so the full basement was completely flooded. The water levels have been brought down though, so now crews are just doing restoration work.”

Hempel says the restoration crew has been on scene since last night, continuously pumping the water out of the basement.

“Now they’re just doing a salvage – going through the basement, and trying to figure out what to tackle and what to keep.”

There is some good news – as nothing of historical significance was stored in the basement, and thus wasn’t damaged.

“We’re very lucky there – and as far as we know, nothing of any real consequence to the house has occurred. It’s just a matter of cleaning everything up now.”

Hempel adds that includes McDougall’s famous frieze paintings – which were also unharmed. All of the Cottage’s items have since been moved to the Curatorial Centre at the Region’s Museum.

Hempel extends her thanks to the Cambridge Fire Department, and the Region of Waterloo Museum staff who “rescued the artifacts on display.”

The McDougall Cottage Historic Site will be closed to the public until further notice.