Hundreds of Seattle Residents Want City to Pay for Flood Damage

January 22, 2007

Hundreds of Seattle residents want the city to pay them for flood damage caused by the city’s stormwater and sewage systems that were overwhelmed during the December windstorm.

More than 200 people have filed claims ranging from $50 to $100,000, complaining of toilets filled with sewage, mud oozing into rooms and basements filled with 4 feet of water. The majority said they still don’t have estimates on how much repairs will cost.

Claims were filed by residents in West Seattle, View Ridge, the Central Area, Delridge and Madison Park.

“It was like fountains coming out the toilet, shower,” said Carol Thrush, who lives near the Fauntleroy ferry dock in West Seattle. “I had leaves and berries and mud, rocks, pebbles all through my whole basement.”

Some residents claimed storm drains were blocked and water came in through their doors. Others said filters city contractors placed over storm drains blocked floodwaters.

One Laurelhurst resident said 40 inches of water flooded his driveway because a construction crew for Seattle City Light had piled sand and gravel on his street and blocked the drains.

“We’re going to be looking at every claim individually; we’re treating these very seriously,” said Andy Ryan, spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities, who called the number of claims “unprecedented.”

He would not comment on how much the city could be required to pay for this storm.

The city paid $1.2 million to 32 residents in Madison Valley following storm-related flooding in 2004. Its insurance deductible is $5 million, and any amount below that would be paid by Seattle Public Utilities’ drainage and wastewater fund.

The utility has acknowledged that 30 homes were flooded in Madison Valley last month after a detention pond overflowed. Claims ranging from $1,100 to $96,000 have been filed by 60 people living near East John Street and 30th Avenue East.

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