Water main break in Fort Lauderdale brings big headache for residents, businesses

Customers may be without water for up to 24 hours

By Ian Margol - Reporter, Roy Ramos - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Hotels and restaurants were among the businesses that were forced to shut down Thursday or make some kind of contingency plan after a water main break in Fort Lauderdale shut off water to thousands of customers.

"I woke up this morning and I checked my email, and the property manager had sent us an email saying that the water was probably going to be off up to 24 hours," Fort Lauderdale resident Ben Tetreault said. 

By the time he woke up, the water wasn't even running hard enough for him to shower.

"I'm thinking about going to get a workout, but I'm not sure if at my gym the water's on or not. They've got showers there, so I'll have to see when I get there," Tetreault said. 

All throughout the day, hotels and residents have been trying to conserve water as the taps went dry.

Meanwhile, traffic on Las Olas Boulevard was at a crawl as people left businesses that had to shut down because without running water, many restaurants and stores just can't run.

Even The Galleria mall had to close its doors, since its air-conditioning needs running water to make cool air.

"Their ice machines, their walk-in coolers -- everything is water-cooled units and everything gets shut down," JLL Real Estate chief engineer Mark Morin said. 

Vincent Foti, owner of Vinnie's by the Sea, said he made preparations to keep his business open despite the shutdown, but he knew it wouldn't be easy.

"We went out, got some paper plates, got some plastic cups and stuff to help with the whole water shortage thing," he said.  

Other businesses, like Aruba Beach Cafe, chose to not take any chances and closed their doors for fear of harming their customers 

"Just the water conditions -- we didn't know what was exactly going on, so to be on the safe side," said Guy Contrady, of Aruba Beach Cafe. 

Employees at the Courtyard Marriott in Fort Lauderdale Beach said they aren't kicking anyone out, but they are suggesting anyone who was supposed to stay there or is trying to get a reservation, go elsewhere.

"We're staying at the Westin, and we came over here to see if they have water and they don't, so we're heading to Miami," one tourist, David Ceaser, said.

The Boca Raton Resort & Club is offering a 15 percent discount to those affected by the water outage. Click here to book a room and use the code FLRELO. 

There have also been some concerns about sprinkler systems in Fort Lauderdale's high rises, but so far, we haven't heard about any evacuations.

Many of the buildings are running air-conditioning units that need water to cool them, however, so some people living there may be feeling the heat Thursday night.

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