The cold weather is to blame for a water main break at the Norwichtown Mall Monday evening.
"Before we knew it, all of a sudden, water just started to flow down from the mall into our store like a river," said Lynn Sobotta, the store manager at Dress Barn.
She said the water covered about three quarters of the store and forced everyone inside to quickly run out. It came from a water main break in the back of the mall. Firefighters said the water main froze and its valve ruptured.
"It probably froze over the past few days when we had those really cold sub-zero temperatures, and then it probably started to thaw out, and what happened is the ice had let go, and the water just followed through," said Yantic Fire Chief Frank Blanchard.
The entire mall was filled with about six to eight inches of water when the utility company finally turned the water off.
"There was so much water in the mall that it affected all the systems: you have floor outlets, equipment, electrical panels that were all affected by this amount of water that's been in the mall," said Chief Blanchard.
The task has now turned to clean up. The mall will remain closed for at least a few days. There's no water, gas or electricity in the building.
"Somebody will be first thing in the morning, survey the damage, and then we want to get cleaned up and back open as quick as we can," said Sobotta.