Troubleshooter: Storm drain problems

October 22, 2008 3:49:45 PM PDT
This summer brought some heavy rains, and several homeowners called about backed up storm drains. Brandy Lee says a clogged city of Fayetteville storm drain caused her home to suffer thousands of dollars worth of damage. The 1st flooding happened in July during a heavy rain. Brandy and her husband were working in Iraq at the time, and had to fly home to Fayetteville to take care of the damage. Brandy tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "We got a contractor in and he said it would cost $14,280 to fix the damages not including replacing the furniture. My husband sent the estimate to the city and they said they were going to investigate and let us know." The city's storm drain sits next to Brandy's property. She adds, "They did send someone out and the only thing they did was clean the debris off and out of the drain."

A little more than a month later, another heavy rain and the same exact same city storm drain clogged again. The Lee's had water back in the areas of their home they just paid more than $14,000 to restore. Besides the water damage, the Lee's got more frustrating news as they learned the previous homeowner also reported the clogged drain to the city of Fayetteville in March of 2007. The Lee's made another call to the city. Brandy says, "They sent someone out here and this time they stuck a hose in the drain and found it was clogged. So they brought some heavy equipment." According to the city's work order, this time crews brought in a root cutter to cut a root out of the storm drain pipeline. Brandy adds, "I wonder why they didn't investigate that the first time to see what the root cause was."

In the meantime, the city did investigate and denied the Lee's request for reimbursement for their damages claiming they were not negligent or the sole cause. Brandy says after two floods their damage now totals more than $20,000 and she can't understand the city's denial. She says, "The drains aren't on our property. It's city property and they're responsible for maintaining them."

A rep for the city of Fayetteville says they responded appropriately to three separate calls and did what was necessary to allow the drainage system to work properly and was observed as working after each city response. She also added, during heavy rains, debris can move or build up, causing problems for drainage systems that were perfectly clean and functional before large storms to clog.

Brandy did call her insurance company to see if she could get flood insurance in case this happens again. While she can add it, she says a rep told her flood insurance does not cover sewage, drain, or backups. This is a good time, to clean out your own storm drains, and get rid of the extra debris.


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