Their excitement only grew the following summer when
Then came the spring thaw this year, when their version of the American dream suddenly was doused by a deluge of water from underground. The water came up through every seam and crack in the foundation.
The only logical conclusion,
As a result, the family filed a claim against the county seeking
But the county's liability carrier,
"I'm not the suing type,"
Zehms confirmed in a fact sheet for county supervisors that a claimant may initiate a lawsuit only after the county has rejected a claim and that claims usually are disallowed when there are significant issues of liability or damages.
"It is part of the process the county goes through with its insurance carrier for handling claims," said County Administrator
Schauf did, however, say disallowing the claim could help the process move faster and wouldn't stop ongoing negotiations between the insurer and the claimant about a possible resolution.
Still, that didn't sit right with
"I'm not an expert in hydrology or drainage or anything like that, but it seems to me that if the county came along and raised the road 4 feet and filled in the ditch, the water that used to flow over that road and into the ditch is now flowing into that property, which it didn't do before," Smiar said. "It seems to me that everyone who has looked at it has reached that logical conclusion."
Smiar said his symbolic vote was intended to show he doesn't like the practice of automatically rejecting claims and forcing people to sue.
"In my opinion, common sense would say the county did something to cause damage to this person's property and it would be only right for the county to acknowledge that, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way," Smiar said,
For the Adkins family, the soggy nightmare began late on the afternoon of
"It was an awful feeling watching it come in,"
At the same time, water was bubbling up in a large portion of the backyard, Desiree recalled.
More than five months later -- and after one more flooding incident on
--All of the trim around the basement doors is warped and will need to be replaced.
--The exposed, now-blackened tack strips that once held carpet have caused multiple injuries when family members, including the couple's 7- and 3-year-old daughters, have gone downstairs to take showers.
--The couple's 11-year-old son, Collin, has been forced to sleep in the living room after having breathing troubles as a result of the mold growing in his former bedroom. His bed is now wedged between the front wall and the dining room table, and he keeps his clothes in the garage.
--The family essentially has no lawn left near their house after
Help wanted soon
In a cruel twist, Desiree noted that the family's previous rental home had water seep into the basement during spring thaw and heavy rain, so avoiding that annoyance was a high priority during their latest housing search.
"We talked to the previous homeowners, and they said there had been no flooding in 40-plus years, so we thought we were all set," Desiree said as she stood on the dirt next to her house where a lush, green lawn had been growing before the trench project.
When contacted by the
The previous homeowner also pointed out to the Adkins family the history of a natural spring that would routinely blow a hole in the blacktop in the middle of
"Essentially, it looks like they put a cork in it and rerouted it into our basement,"
Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner
"Unfortunately, there's a situation here that popped up, and we're trying to work through it as civilly as possible," Johnson said.
Five-and-a-half months after the flooding, the Adkinses are frustrated they haven't received any compensation and no action has been taken to fix a problem they see as time-sensitive.
"If we're going to do anything, it needs to be done, sooner rather than later because the ground is going to freeze again soon, and if nothing is done we could have the same thing all over again next spring," Desiree said.
The couple complained they have received almost no communication about the county's intentions, other than hearing about the
"In the meantime, half of our house is still unusable," said
"All we want is to be made whole,"
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