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Burst Pipe Floods Marina Towers

No utilities for residents in high-rise.

One of the amenities enjoyed by residents of Marina Towers is a view of the water. But last Friday morning, water became the enemy rather than an added attraction.

That was when a water pipe broke right at the entry into the basement of the high-rise condominium located at 501 Slaters Lane, on the banks of the Potomac River. It flooded the basement level causing the boiler, which supplies hot water and heat, and all electrical current to the building, to be shut down, according to James Edmundson, president, Marina Towers Association.

"We got a call about 7 a.m., requesting that the water be turned off due to a break and flooding on the property," said William Walsh, vice president and manager, Virginia American Water Company. "Since the break was on private property we are not involved in the repairs."

Although the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross had made arrangements for residents to be sheltered at the Cora Kelly Center, it was not necessary since evacuation of the building was ruled voluntary by Arthur Dahlberg, director, Code Enforcement for the city.

"Most of the residents decided to go elsewhere on their own," Dahlberg said. "There were some who wished to stay for various reasons," Edmundson noted.

As a precaution, while initial repairs were underway, electrical current to the building was cut off by Dominion Virginia Power. "We shut down two transformers serving Marina Towers. This caused three others to go down also. But they were restored within five minutes," said Le Ha Anderson, media relations, Dominion Virginia.

Emergency lights in the building were restored by a portable generator brought in by the association. The regular back-up generator had also been damaged by the flooding.

Dahlberg and Michael Connor, Chief Fire Marshall, met with Edmundson at the site and determined that if all safety requirements could be met by the emergency generator evacuation would be voluntary. However, Dahlberg cautioned at the time, if the emergency lighting was not restored by nightfall, evacuation would be mandatory. This was not necessary.

"All power and water to the building has been fully restored," said Leonard Carter, building general manager, on Tuesday afternoon. "The lights, water and elevators are all operating."