Broken pipe floods Reagan terminal

RAW VIDEO: A broken pipe sent water gushing into part of the terminal at Reagan National Airport late Saturday afternoon, creating a major disruption, authorities said. The break flooded the lower level of Terminal C, which is primarily used by US Airways, said airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton. The baggage claim area in Terminal C was in the flooded area, she said.
By Martin Weil and Hamil R. Harris
Sunday, December 27, 2009

A broken pipe sent water spewing into part of a terminal at Reagan National Airport Saturday afternoon, creating a major disruption, authorities said.

The break closed much or most of Terminal C, the center of US Airways operations, said airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton.

Flooding shut down the Terminal C baggage claim area and electricity was shut off to the US Airways pier there, Hamilton said. She said US Airways operations at National, both departures and arrivals, were halted for the rest of the day.

Early Sunday morning US Airways flights have also been canceled, another airport spokeswoman said late Saturday. The spokeswoman advised prospective passengers to telephone the airline at 800 428 4322 for the latest information on their flights.

By Saturday night, the water had been shut off, but the cause of the problem remained unclear. Airport spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis said it involved a break in a supply pipe, which is a kind of fire hydrant attached to the wall of the terminal.

At about the time the break apparently occurred, a man in the baggage claim area spotted something unusual. After glancing around, he said, he "honestly thought they'd put in a waterfall."

Mark Delligatti of Alexandria, who arrived on a US Airways shuttle about 3 p.m., remembered that he first thought: "Isn't that lovely." Then, he said, he saw the water flowing along the floor.

US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said the airline's shuttle ticket counter, baggage carousels and a security checkpoint were "underwater." At 5:45 p.m., he said, the electricity was out.

Although two US Airways flights from Phoenix landed at National on Saturday, Lehmacher said that with the flooding "we couldn't continue to operate" at the airport.

The airline is hoping to operate at National on Sunday, he said, but is "still looking at it."

A witness said water cascaded onto the lower level from a section of ceiling. Water was about five or six inches deep in spots and seemed to be flowing out the doors.

The break was the latest disruption to affect airport operations during the holidays. Last weekend's record snowfall shut the airport for a time, and many passengers scrambled through the jammed terminal later, trying to make new reservations and telling of long delays.

Despite the disruptions at Terminal C, most of the airport appeared unaffected Saturday evening, Hamilton said.

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