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Major flooding in Houston forces schools, university to close

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Major flooding in Houston forces schools, university to close
A 96-inch main water line that serves over 50 percent of Houston broke Thursday, flooding main streets. Photo courtesy of Houston Fire Department/Twitter

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Dozens of schools, churches, stores, early voting locations and the Houston Zoo among others will be closed Friday due to widespread flooding caused by a burst water main in the Texas city.

A 96-inch main water line that serves more than 50 percent of Houston broke Thursday, causing major flooding, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter.

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Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement that the break occurred when a city contractor was doing exploratory work for a water line project in east Houston.

"When soil was moved from the line, the 96-inch line burst," Turner said.

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Pictures shared online by the Houston Fire Department and the city show streets near the break wholly submerged and cars flooded. Houston Fire said it rescued three people due to the flooding.

A boil water advisory has been issued for the city of Houston's Main Water System due to the drop in water pressure caused by the break, according to Harris County Public Health.

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The break has since been isolated and water pressure restored, said Turner, who earlier authorized the Public Works Department to "take all necessary steps" to return water pressure to normal levels.

Despite Turner stating water pressure has been stabilized, Houston Public Works warned on its website that it could take 48 hours before water is restored to those effected.

Gonzales said it would take between six and eight hours to repair the main, which had not been replaced in 35 years.

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"Today's water line break is a reminder of the aging infrastructure that Houston and other major cities face as we work to make improvements each day," Turner said.

The Houston Independent School District, the largest district in the state with 280 schools, The University of Houston and the Houston Zoo, among other organizations, stores and businesses, said they would be closed Friday due to the flood.

"Please be assured that the animals have plenty of clean water and staff to care for them," the zoo said in a statement. "The zoo plans to open on schedule at 9 a.m. Saturday, however, we will follow guidance from public water system officials."

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