Businesses at the Oakwood Center Shopping Complex were back in operation Wednesday after a water pipe burst Tuesday, forcing city officials to evacuate the building and cut off the water and power supply.
Tuesday's plumbing problems meant a business loss of about $7,000 in sales for Abraham Moussa, who owns the Mugs 'N Jugs restaurant in the shopping center, which is on 66th Street south of the point where 66th splits from southbound U.S. 19.
"The city of Largo has been very accommodating and more than cordial," said Moussa, noting the city turned back on the electricity to his building Tuesday night so he wouldn't lose thousands of dollars worth of food.
The break occurred late Tuesday afternoon, said Largo Fire Rescue District Chief Brian Brady. A 6-inch line that leads to a fire hydrant in front of the building already was leaking, and it burst as a contractor who was brought in to repair the line was digging.
Eventually, the flooding caused a crack in the parking lot. As the erosion increased, a 9-foot-tall column in front of the building came loose and sank almost 4 feet into the ground.
A 6-foot-deep, 12-inch-wide hole opened up at the corner of the parking lot as a result of the flooding.
The Largo Fire department stood watch at the shopping center the entire night.
Wednesday morning, city officials and Pasquale Dicerbo, the center's owner, waited for contractors to arrive to begin repairing the problem.
"We're fortunate today that we have power," said Kevin Rogers, 35, vice president of Condotrader.com, a real estate advertising company. "I wasn't too optimistic that action would be taken."
Rogers' night shift, which could have up to 20 people on staff, could not report to work on Tuesday, which cost the company, he said.
After engineers have shored up the building with steel and wood, city officials can begin to investigate the burst pipe, Sizemore said.
Repairs to the building and parking lot are expected to take weeks to complete.
Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Nicole Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4162.
Brian Marshall of Fire Line Restoration Inc. inspects damage from inside the Rentaland store in the Oakwood Center in Largo on Wednesday. One of the pillars, like the one shown, sank into the ground when a water line broke and caused erosion Tuesday night. Repairs were made and the businesses were able to reopen Wednesday.