Homeowner estimates $25,000 bill following water main break

Dave Bartlett
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The cleanup continues following a major water main break earlier this week on Portugal Cove Road.

When The Telegram visited the area Thursday morning, a van from a repair company was parked in front of one of the flooded homes, but knocks on the door went unanswered.

Next door, a young man who rents the main floor of the house said his apartment wasn’t flooded, but the people who lived in the basement were forced out by the water, and are no longer staying there.

One of those homeowners told The Telegram earlier this week his cleanup bill may be $80,000.

But it wasn’t only a few houses on the main thoroughfare that were affected. At least one other home behind those properties — on Whitehorse Place — was also severely damaged.

Katie Halliday offered to show the damage in her home. At this point, it’s estimated at $25,000, according to the contractor she’s hired to do the cleanup.

“That’s what the Winmar fellow told me. It could be more. He said that was just a rough estimate and he wouldn’t really know until he kind of punched everything into his computer,” said Halliday.

All the floors in her basement, and even the bottom half-metre or so of the walls, were soaked when water poured downhill from the break, through her backyard and into her home.

Halliday is not sure how much damage may have been done to the yard, or what that may cost.

The pipe broke in the early hours of Monday morning, and when she got up she noticed her backyard was full of mud. But because the water level had dropped by then, she didn’t realize the mess in the home until a neighbour popped by.

“He said, ‘Did you wake up last night?’ Apparently there was like a river running between our two houses,” said Halliday.

She said the water inside the home drained quickly. Only one room still had water in it when she went to check out the situation.

See CITY, page A2

“It was just mostly evidence of (where) the water (had been). When the gentleman came in to do the estimate, his … moisture metre was beeping all the way up the wall,” said Halliday.

She agreed it’s never good to wake up with water in your basement, but she’s taking it all in stride

“What do you do?” she said. “Luckily enough, we have insurance that’s going to cover it because first they told us it wasn’t going to be covered for flooding.”

But Halliday said that changed after she spoke to someone with the city who informed her that most policies cover watermain breaks, even if they don’t cover natural flooding.

“I spoke to the guy from the city who was very, very helpful. He was really great,” she said.

The city employee told her to call her insurance company back and explain the flooding was caused by a watermain break, which she did, and the company then told her to go ahead with the repairs.

The city cannot be held liable for broken watermains, according to the province’s City of St. John’s Act, which states in Section 179 that “the city shall not be liable for a loss or damage to property resulting from flooding by water occasioned by rainstorms or thaws, or the breaking of a water main or sewer pipe for a cause over which the city has no control."

Halliday said the city employee told her if the city was found to be negligent, that would be a different case.

The removal of the wet material should be finished by today, and then the home will have to be dried and sprayed to prevent mould from forming.

“They’ll bring in industrial strength fans and dehumidifiers and stuff like that,” said Halliday.

But she’s not sure how long it will take before the basement is restored to what it was like before the flooding.

Meanwhile, city crews were busy on Thursday dealing with another watermain break closer to downtown.

A pipe burst on Factory Lane, not far from the Baine Johnston Building.

The break was reported to the city either late Wednesday or overnight and was fixed by shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday.

According to the city, there are no reports of damage so far.

The watermains in that area are older, and the break is being blamed an a broken fitting.



Organizations: Portugal Cove Road.When The Telegram

Geographic location: Whitehorse Place

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Recent comments

  • MBC
    January 13, 2012 - 15:19


  • California Pete from NFLD
    January 13, 2012 - 12:28

    You got to be kidding. It is a city pipe . It is time to get a Lowyer and put it right it is not an act of God

  • Paul
    January 13, 2012 - 09:26

    CSJ has control over it's maintenance program or lack thereof.

  • dontgetmestarted
    January 13, 2012 - 07:30

    "for a cause over which the city has no control"- well that says it all- how about sloppy repair jobs, they have control over that.