Water main rupture sets off chaos in Houston: citywide boil notice, Loop 610 flooded, universities closed

A water main break in Houston on Thursday has frozen traffic and closed several polling places on the second to last day of early voting. ABC13 Houston screenshot

A major water line broke in Houston on Thursday, flooding roadways and causing the state's largest school district, local colleges, polling places and businesses to close.

The flooded roads caused 12 to 15 cars to be trapped on 610 East Loop, but there have been no injuries, Houston Fire Chief Robert Peña said. Firefighters was able to rescue three people from the area.

All Houston ISD after-school activities have been cancelled, the school district announced in a tweet. The University of Houston and Texas Southern University tweeted that both campuses would be closed for the remainder of Thursday. Texas Southern University sent out an alert announcing the closure of several campuses as well.

Four early voting locations are closed until further notice due to the break, according to a press release from Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman. Houston Community College, Young Neighborhood Library, Texas Southern University and Harris County Law Library have been closed, and the Limited Ballot polling location has been moved to the Harris County Technology Center. Other early voting sites will remain open until 7 p.m.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference that both ends of the burst 96-inch line have been isolated, and it will take "several hours" for the water pressure to return to normal. The mayor advised residents in the affected area to conserve water as much as possible and to boil water before use.

The Public Works Department is working to fix the problem, he said, and it will take 6 to 8 hours to isolate the line, shut it off, drain the water from the line and make repairs. The Texas Department of Transportation is assisting the city.

"We anticipate things being back to normal certainly in the morning, for schools and everyone else," Turner said.

The state agencies coordinating with city and county officials include the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gov. Greg Abbott said at scheduled coronavirus press briefing Thursday.

"State personnel are ready to respond to any requests for assistance from local officials," Abbott said.

Stacy Fernández contributed to this story.