Warren walks on water | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff Photo / Raymond L. Smith Kristin Riley said she has been cleaning the basement of her Washington Street NE home of mold and other material from the sewers since heavy rains in August fell in the areas. Warren and Champion areas. Riley admitted that his family got lucky because most of the main equipment in the house, including its furnace, hot water tank, and large freezer, survived about a foot of water that was in it. in the basement.

WARREN – Moments after hearing the lid of a non-functioning toilet pound up and down, Mark Barta Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth, were feverishly trying to keep their washer and dryer from getting soaked with a mixture of storm water and sanitary sewers. .

“We didn’t have a lot of time” Marc remembers. “The water was rising so fast. One instant it was up to my ankle and the next it was almost up to my waist.

The couple’s three children, two of whom were disabled, were on the first floor and were scared.

“One of my daughters was almost washed away in the water”, said Elisabeth.

The Barta family are among dozens of families in the town of Warren and Champion whose homes were flooded with storm water and sewers on August 25 due to some estimates of just 5 inches of rain. of one hour.

The roads around the Larchmont Avenue area had high water rushing past homes and businesses, causing some cars to stall. People said the water on the roads was knee deep.

Since that day, residents have attended city council and US bailout meetings, wondering why the city’s sewage system is not ready to handle such rains.

Many have argued that they have had sewer back-up issues in their homes for years, even when much lower volumes of rain fall.

This is not a new problem: in recent years, Warren has worked to address areas of residential flooding created by the influx and infiltration of storm sewer water into sanitary sewers, particularly in oldest parts of the city. A system-wide study sought to determine if the seepage is due to improper connections, groundwater seepage, broken lines or some other cause, as well as an influx into networks. sewage from storm water sources – water that does not need to be treated, but still is transported through the sewer to the treatment plant.

Fixing this is expensive.

Some residents have said they want some, if not most, of the $ 28 million the city receives from the US Rescue Plan’s pandemic relief effort to be used to repair system infrastructure. disgust.

The city has already received $ 14 million of the $ 28 million. The other half should be released next year.

The money was placed in a paid account.

Administration officials have held a series of community meetings over the past month to hear how residents want ARP funds to be used.


The Bartas had just started renting out the tiny single-family brick house on Elm Road in January. They worked to make it their home, repainting the interior and doing a lot of extra work to make it comfortable.

Barta Jr. had just found a job with a local cabinet maker, so his wife had the option of staying home to look after the children. A girl, due to her disability, must have someone with her at all times.

He sliced ​​his arms and hands dragging the washer and dryer up the stairs and out of the side door, causing pain and weakening his arms.

As a new employee, Barta said he missed too many days, so he lost his job.

As a result, Elizabeth had to return to the job she had left.

The couple did not have rental insurance and therefore had to pay for any loss.

It didn’t take very long for the couple to determine that they couldn’t stay in the house, so they told their landlord that they were moving.

Fortunately, the owner had another house that he could rent. Ownership needs a bit of fairness, but working is part of Barta’s skill set.


Kristin Riley, of Washington St. NE., Lived in her two-story brick house for six years and was flooded three times.

“The previous floods were nothing like what happened on August 25”, Riley said. “In these other cases, the water rose 3 to 4 inches. This time he grew 10 to 12 inches tall in just a few hours. “

The water was exploding like a geyser, she said.

“I put a tennis ball inside the drain where the water was gushing out and stood on it, but the water passed the ball even with my weight on it,” she said.

During the flooding, Riley’s son repeatedly asked his mother to allow him downstairs to help keep water out and clean up.

“I wouldn’t let him,” she said. “I told him if anyone should get sick it would be me.”

Riley was especially frustrated with what she perceives as the hype her family receives from her insurance company.

“I called the complaints department and heard nothing from them” she said.

A few days after the flooding, Riley’s husband David repaired the hot water tank.

But when they contacted the insurance company, the family were told the company would normally have an inspector perform a diagnostic exam to determine what is needed before any work is done.

“We couldn’t wait three weeks”, Riley said.

The rising water has littered David’s lumber store, some training equipment, and other items on the floor.

“The dirt was disgusting” she said. “We lost boxes of food, tents and sleeping bags. I have never seen so much mold ”, she said.

They bought a big dehumidifier that ran non-stop and bought a sump pump that needed to be installed. The couple also bought another portable pump to use if the sewers start pumping water into their basement again before the sump pump is installed.

“We pulverized everything. There is always the smell that persists in the basement and in the house ”, she said.

Cleaning takes time as they both work and take care of their son.

“It will take us weeks to get back to normal”, she said.

They met with a claims adjuster on September 12.

“We are lucky because we have insurance” she said. “There are people who didn’t have insurance. If this continues to happen, how long will it be before the insurance company decides to abandon our policy? “


Susan DeLeo of Meadowbrook Drive has lived in her home since 1998.

On August 25, she was heading for the stairs in her basement when her cat went upstairs and walked past her.

When she looked down and saw the water rising, DeLeo slammed the door.

“There had been rains a few days before, where the neighbors had water in their basements”, DeLeo said. “We felt lucky that we didn’t have water in our basement at that time.”

She immediately called SERVPRO to have someone verify what was going on downstairs. DeLeo did not reopen the door until a cleaning crew arrived to help him.

“It wasn’t that bad” DeLeo said. “The water was mostly in the back corners, where the drains are. It smelled like sewage.

Most of the cleanup was done that day, including the removal of carpets, drywall, baseboards and a fan.

“We had worse in 2003” she reminded herself.

The family has already received their first insurance check for $ 5,000.

“I am blessed,” she said.

DeLeo recalled the city’s studies of its sewer lines in the early 1990s.

“It’s not a new problem,” she said. “Plans were on the books to solve the city’s sewage problem. Today, four mayors later, the city still has problems. Why did it take so long?

DeLeo, a former TV reporter, said there should be someone who can bring the people dealing with the issue together in the same room – and not let them out until the issue is resolved. .

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