A water main burst with such force it smashed windows in nearby houses, damaged a car and flooded streets.
A jet of water blasted houses near to the roundabout in Mansfield Road, Derby, after the pipe burst at around 2.15am on Sunday.
Rosie Burton, 31, who lives nearby, said she heard "loud rumbling" moments before a "banging".
The teacher said: "I went outside and there was just a massive river flowing down the street. I looked to the right of me and there was just this huge fountain."
Two women were helped out of one house by neighbours but a family had to be rescued by firefighters after they struggled to escape as the water was "pounding" their home, Miss Burton said.
She added: "All the windows were smashed - the sheer force of the water, it's taken off roof tiles, taken up driveways - it was absolute carnage. The water was firing over the roofs to start with.
"The car that was parked on the driveway next to one of the houses - the back end of that is pushed in."
More than 12 hours after the main burst, water was still flowing from the hole in the pavement, Miss Burton said.
A spokesman for Severn Trent Water said engineers would "work around the clock" to fix the pipe.
They said: "We're happy to say that water supplies should now be back on for most properties in Derby however there may be some properties without supply.
"We know how difficult it is to have no water and we're really sorry for the inconvenience this may be causing."
The firm also apologised for any inconvenience of road closures during the engineering works.