Water Utility disputes resident claim of liability over flood damages from water main break
MADISON, Wis. — The city of Madison Water Utility is calling a local resident’s concern that damage from a water main break would not be covered by the city a “misunderstanding.”
In a statement posted to their website Thursday, the Madison Water Utility said they were not aware of any city staff telling residents along Oak Street in Madison that damages would be covered from a water main break on June 11.
Residents like Emily Mabie say they were told otherwise.
“We lost things like photo albums, baby pictures, children’s literature from when I was a kid, things you can’t replace. So that was probably emotionally the hardest area,” she said.
Mabie said the city had told the residents they would pay for the damages.
“It happened on the city’s water main. The city had just worked on the water main the month before,” Mabie said.
Residents who live along Hermina Street, Union Street and Oak Street say they woke up Wednesday morning to an upsetting email.
“This morning I woke up to see they had denied our claim and the only statement they made was that the city is not liable,” Mabie said.
Mabie added many of the affected residents say they never bought flood insurance and were never advised to.
“My insurance won’t cover it because they say the city’s liable and the city says they’re not liable, but we aren’t even sure how that could even be possible,” Mabie added.
While the situation is tough for any resident who is dealing with the costs, Mabie said she is worried about being able to afford anything.
“It’s really frustrating that the city somehow thinks they don’t owe us the $12,500 they’ve taken from me, which is my entire life savings,” she said. “I teach public school and I feel like I’ve given back to the city for five years now and I’ve never asked for anything. And now this one time when I really need them to come through for us, they’re not.”
She’s even planning on going to extreme measures just to get by.
“Our plan is to dumpster dive all winter so we don’t have to pay for food,” she said.
Mabie has several side jobs to help her financially, including being a DJ, but all her audio equipment was lost in the flood. She said she’s prepared to take legal action against the city if they don’t end up paying for the damages she attributes to the city’s negligence.
News 3 reached out to the city’s Risk Management Department and the city’s insurance company on both Wednesday and Thursday and did not immediately receive a comment.
Before contacting News 3, the Water Utility posted a statement on their website Thursday, saying that the water main was installed in 1928 and showed signs of corrosion.
“The break appears to have been caused by the age of the main, which has been in service for 90 years, not by any direct action by Madison Water Utility crew,” the statement said.
The statement also said the city followed its “normal process” of notifying residents of how to file a claim with the city.
“The City is not aware of any instance where Risk Management staff told any of the potential claimants that the City would be pay their damages,” the statement said. “That determination is made by the City’s insurance carrier after an investigation of the claim(s).”
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