Danville commission won't pay for flood damage to residences

November 09, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

In February, James McGrath's house on O'Hara Drive was flooded, causing $3,300 of damage. He said the storm drain in front of it was blocked then, and that it still is blocked.

The city's insurance company says it doesn't owe McGrath. Danville City Commissioners told him Monday there was nothing they could do.

Property owners beware: flooding may be the city's fault, but that doesn't mean it is negligent. Insurance claims are only paid when the city has been negligent.

Take McGrath's case. He says that the storm sewer has been blocked with debris, and that caused water to flow into his basement and house. Commissioner Ryan Owens was at his house several weeks ago and said the storm sewer was so clogged he couldn't see through it.


City Manager Darrell Blenniss explained that the city is only negligent if it knew the storm sewer was blocked, and it had not been fixed.

He likened it to pothole claims. According to Blenniss, the city only would pay for a driver's tire if it could be proved that the city knew about the pothole and did nothing about it.

This differs from the city's usual policy. In the past if a driver had a flat tire from a pothole they called the city with the location of the pothole. City workers went out and looked for the hole, if it was there then the city paid.

McGrath pointed out that even Mayor John W.D. Bowling had been reimbursed for a pothole claim.

However, Blenniss said that in McGrath's case the city might be considered negligent if his house or one of his neighbor's houses had flooded a second time, but there had been no other claims.

McGrath says that he had his basement water-proofed, and that it why he has been able to keep flood water from the drain out. That process cost him more than $5,000.

Commissioner Jamey Gay said the city would be setting a dangerous precedent if it paid McGrath's claim.

City Engineer Earl Coffey said that he would go look at the drain again, and make sure it was unblocked.

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