Homeowner blames company for flood damage
Appeal Staff Writer
The blue 1972 Chevrolet Nova at John Lubich’s house is more than just a car. It’s tied to his family and his past. He bought it when he turned 18 and drove it off the showroom floor.
It was his daughter’s first car, and then when she enlisted in the U.S. Navy it became his son’s first car.
He was storing it for his son, a U.S. Marine stationed in Japan, but now it’s destroyed and would cost between $50,000 and $100,000 – far more than it’s worth – to get running again, a car restorer told him. The car suffered damage as water poured over the hood and into the interior during the flooding last weekend.
Lubich also had more than an inch of water in his garage, and it got under a guest house on his property, causing part of the foundation to sink.
He won’t be receiving an insurance settlement. His provider said he is not eligible for flood insurance because he doesn’t live in a flood plain. No water actually breached his home, meaning he isn’t eligible for relief or compensation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But the worst part, according to Lubich, was that it could have been easily prevented.
Lubich’s property at 1001 Mark Way butts up against the right-of-way for the newly-constructed bypass for Highway 395. Adjacent to his house is a 40-acre lot owned by Don Langson that is being used by Ames Construction to store dirt removed during construction of the bypass. Ames is the principal contractor on the freeway project. According to Lubich, that dirt was one of the main reasons for the flooding.
“All that dirt disrupted the natural drainage which would have taken it around my house,” said Lubich. “I have lived in this house for 24 years. I was here in the flood of ’86 and the flood of ’97 and there has never been the amount of water on this property that we had recently.”
The damage from mud and debris is the second incident in the area after the Carson Hot Springs Resort was inundated following heavy rain Dec. 1 causing more than $13,000 in damage, according to the resort’s owners.
Lubich said that shortly after the flooding began on Saturday, he contacted representatives from Ames twice during the day, asking them to dig a ditch to divert water from the residential neighborhood.
“That’s the thing that really irks me. If they had dug the ditch on Saturday when I talked to them, it never would have happened. I talked to them on Saturday and they had the equipment sitting right there and the ability to stop it and they did nothing,” Lubich said. “It’s disgusting. It never should have happened.”
Andy Anderson, regional safety manager for Ames Construction, said the company is investigating the cause of the flooding and is working with Lubich, but declined to comment further.
But, without help from FEMA and no insurance check coming, all Lubich can look forward to at this point is 4 inches of mud and a large bill to repair his son’s car.
“I understand that life is life, rain is rain and damage happens. But when nobody steps up and does something to prevent it, that’s a problem,” Lubich said.
— Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.