UPDATE: Giant wall of floodwater bursts into Asbury family's basement
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
A wall of flood water burst through the basement of an Asbury home Sunday night
ASBURY (KWWL) -
UPDATE: Asbury mayor acknowledges council's awareness of the problem.
One area family says negligence on the part of the Asbury city council is to blame for a four-foot wall of water that exploded into their basement Sunday night.
The Voorhees family lives adjacent to a creek that drains an entire field, and during heavy rainfalls, all that water can't fit through the city's small drainage pipe, homeowner Ken Voorhees said.
The family has lived in their Asbury home for more than eight years and have had flooding before, but never anything like they saw Sunday night.
The family brought their flood concerns about the small drainage pipe before the city council in the past, and council didn't do anything.
Asbury mayor Jim Adams confirmed this. Monday afternoon, he told KWWL the family had brought the matter before council three or four years ago, but "council chose to take no action at that point."
Asked if council would re-examine the matter following Sunday night's flood, he said, "I'm sure they will. I'm sure Mr. Voorhees will address the council at the next meeting," adding, "It's the least we could do."
Monday afternoon, the Voorhees were surveying the damage and removing all the floodwater-soaked items from the basement.
"Since (the Asbury city council) did nothing last time, I'm going to see what I can do about getting reimbursement for what the damage that's happened this time," homeowner Ken Voorhees said. "Since they knew about it, it's their pipe, I would think it's their responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen again."
An Asbury family has a lot of clean-up ahead of them, after a wall of floodwater nearly five feet high exploded into their finished basement Sunday night.
As heavy rains fell on Dubuque County around 10:30 p.m., Ken and Lesley Voorhees and their teenage daughter Maggie sat in the top level of their Asbury home, knowing flooding was a possibility.
"Whenever it rains hard, we have to kind of sleep with one eye open," Ken Voorhees said. "We have to keep an eye on what we call 'the creek' to make sure that doesn't come up, so that we don't let the pets go down or let any electrical power that needs to be shut off can be shut off."
Between the Voorhees' home and the neighboring house runs a creek, which drains an adjacent field. Ken Voorhees said the problem lies in the size of the pipe through which the water is meant to drain.
"The pipe is obviously under-sized," Voorhees said, gesturing to the opening of the pipe. "It just can't handle the amount of water that comes through the field here."
With Sunday night's heavy rains, the creek swelled and rose, bursting through the sliding glass doors leading to the Voorhees' finished basement.
"We had my wife's parents' ashes in a wall unit. We had a couple pets' ashes in there," Voorhees said. "Keepsakes that the children have: ornaments that they made, things like that, in storage boxes in the basement. Hopefully they'll be okay."
The family has lived in the Asbury house on Forest Hills Drive for more than eight years. They said they've had flooding before but nothing like what they just experienced.
"The highest it's ever been before was to the bottom of this, right about here on the window," Voorhees said, holding his hand a good 2.5 feet below the water line left on the side of his house by Sunday night's flood.
The family has brought up the matter of flooding and the under-sized drainage pipe with the city of Asbury in the past, Voorhees said, but nothing has come of it.
"I would like to see it made right," Voorhees said. "I don't know what they can do. I'm hoping that it's just that they come in and put a bigger pipe in that can handle that amount of water, help me do something to get it fixed so that it doesn't happen again."
He said he feels stuck, that he couldn't sell the house even if he wanted to, "because nobody would want to pay the amount that I owe on it for a house that's going to flood."
Asbury city officials were not immediately available for comment on the story in the early Monday morning hours. KWWL plans on reaching out to them later on Monday for their take on this story.
The family will start assessing damage Monday. The couple has two other, older children, who were not home at the time of the flood.
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