Pipe bursts, flooding Minneapolis apartment building and displacing 21 families

A pipe burst at an apartment building on Minneapolis’ north side, gushing water through all three floors and displacing more than 20 families.

It was a terrifying sight for the families living at the Historic Bell Lofts at the corner of 21st and Bryant, as they watched water flood their units and demolish almost everything in its path.

"It's just water everywhere. It went everywhere. I was kind of scared for my life because I didn't know if I was going to make it out due to all the water raising up to our knees," said resident Ebony Flowers.

Ikedra West's teenage son started screaming in warning.

"He saw everything started to collapse. He said, ‘Get out. Get out.’ He was yelling at me like, ‘Mom, hurry up, hurry up,’" West said.

City officials put up signs on the building warning residents it's "unsafe" and there's a notice of the "intent to condemn."

The building’s owner, Chris Webley, told FOX 9 after the pipe burst, he provided hotels for all 21 families who have been displaced as well as Uber rides to get to the hotels. Webley said the hotels are covered at least through Dec. 31, while city officials assess the building.

A spokesperson with the American Red Cross said it responded to help the people affected and worked with the building owner to make sure people had a warm and safe place to stay, and provided referrals for other community relief programs.

When the fire alarm first sounded Wednesday night, some families thought it was a false alarm, until they realized it wasn't.

"I turned back around. I just saw water and half of the ceiling falling, so I hurry up and go grab my kids and my mom and stuff. And we rushed out," said Shantel Riley.

Riley’s sister, Dyonyca Conley-Rush, is the director of the local non-profit It Takes a Village. While these families wait for answers, she's calling on the community to provide food and clothes.

"There's people that are trying to come here for a better life and this happens. It's not OK," she said. "There's too many organizations over here that get funding that needs to help these people. At the end of the day, they have nowhere to go."

As for the cause of the pipe bursting, Webley said he’s not ruling anything out at this point, including weather or possible negligence from a resident or someone else.

A spokesperson for the city of Minneapolis said contractors were brought in Thursday afternoon to start cleanup efforts and perform a water damage assessment. City officials said the property owner will work with renters to make time over the weekend so they can collect belongings.

City officials said the city’s housing liaison and alternate enforcement teams will also reach out to tenants to make sure they receive support during this difficult time.

The Historic Bell Lofts has set up a GoFundMe to help cover the damages.