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Residents deal with flooded basements after contract workers hit water line


By Andrea Olson

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    REXBURG, Idaho ( — A group of Rexburg residents are dealing with the aftermath of flooded basements and destroyed property after the city says contract workers hit a six-inch water line and it broke.

The break happened last week along Park Street.

“Our contractor who is working on replacing the sewer line, inadvertently hit a water line that broke and then flooded the trench and then backed up into the sewer line and then ended up flooding 10 basements,” said Keith Davidson, public works director and city engineer for the city of Rexburg.

Davidson explained it’s part of a larger road reconstruction project.

Justin Alexander was one of the residents affected by the damage.

“There is nothing left of my basement. It had an inch of standing water when we got home. We are throwing away shelving, most of the flooring, all the carpet. It’s devastating. You come home and things you thought you had are gone,” he said.

Alexander’s home looks like it’s going through a remodel because everything is ripped up and gone. He explained that his neighbor across the street was getting ready to sell their home when this happened.

Davidson explained why the line broke.

“Our water line mark was off. Water lines are inherently difficult to locate because we don’t have a locate wire on these older lines,” Davidson said.

There is no word yet on how long it will take to resolve the issues.

“They are saying the repair part of this could take two months,” Alexander said.

In addition to losing the water line that fed clean water directly in the homes, sewage was also in the mix that backed up and created a biohazard that destroyed couches and carpets for Alexander.

“My tub and my toilet downstairs basically went from white to brown with dirt and sand and I don’t know what else,” he explained.

Alexander says precious memories are gone too, like old photographs. He says he’s concerned about how everything will shape up in the end with the property damage.

“The city originally, we were told was, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it but your carpet and padding and all of your personal belongings that have to be discarded are going to have to be at a depreciated rate’ and that’s kind of what’s got everyone upset,” he said.

Davidson says the cities insurance adjuster has been out meeting with each of the homeowners. When asked if the residents will be responsible for any of the costs, Davidson said it’s a good question for the insurance adjuster.

“Based on what our insurance adjuster has told me, is just what they do is they look at and say okay how old is this carpet or furniture and then they look at what the value would be with that and as things get older, there is some depreciation that goes into that. So what that is, I don’t know, that’s something for our insurance adjuster to go through and obviously he is going to try and be as fair as he can be with the residents out there,” he said.

Restoration companies have been to the properties to clean and dry the basements. Currently, a black hose line is out temporarily to give residents water.

“I hope the city can come through for us,” Alexander said.

Davidson says that the insurance adjuster is gathering more information and that the mayor is hoping to meet with the residents affected soon to resolve the issues.

An exact completion date for the water line repair has not been determined.

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