Westwood water-main break: Cars towed out of UCLA parking structures

WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some drivers whose cars were stranded at UCLA's flooded parking structures began picking up their cars on Friday.

Hundreds of vehicles were towed out of parking lots 4 and 7. Owners were able to pick up the cars beginning at 10 a.m. at a parking lot on Veteran Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.

Many vehicles are still submerged in water.

"As we safely get to those levels, get out the mud so that no one is slipping around down there, then we can start pulling out those cars," said Tod Tamberg, a spokesperson for UCLA.

"Between the two lots, there's an estimated 400 cars that have received water damage to the point where we think they're inoperable," Tamberg said.

UCLA officials say they expect water to be pumped out of the parking structures by Friday night, but there will still be a lot to clean up after that is done.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said car owners affected by the flood can submit a claim at www.ladwp.com/claims.

"While our focus is on making those repairs and reopening Sunset Boulevard as quickly as possible, we also are very much aware that this incident impacted the lives and property of many students, residents, faculty, and others in the nearby community surrounding UCLA and the UCLA campus directly. During repairs, and after they are complete, we want to assure you that we are here to help anyone who sustained damages," LADWP said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the repair work requires complex engineering, LADWP officials said. The three sections of pipe are at different elevations and angles. A custom piece must be designed and built in the field.

"This pipe was put in nearly 100 years ago, so the mapping and some of the plotting isn't always as accurate as you would like it to be. But once you see it and you can touch it, then you can design from that," said Joe Castruita, director of water distribution at LADWP.

The parking lots were flooded on Tuesday after a ruptured water-main on Sunset Boulevard spewed millions of gallons of water into the streets and parts of the UCLA campus.

The ruptured pipe created a huge crater in the middle of Sunset Boulevard. Crews working at the scene are making steady progress. The pipe has been fully excavated, but there's no estimate on when the roadwork will be completed.

Meantime, there were more water problems in Westwood overnight. The Target store on Weyburn Avenue was flooded by a leak from a fire prevention pipe at a construction site overnight. The leak was turned off, but the store had to be closed while crews cleaned up and assessed the damage.

PHOTOS: Sunset Boulevard flooding in Westwood

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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