ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) – Dozens of homeowners packed a community center in hopes of learning what caused a costly water main break and how the city plans to help pay for the damage.
The main ruptured over the weekend, leaking out 1.1 million gallons of water with immense pressure. The city said the water found its way into a sanitary sewer manhole, and from there rushed into homeowner's basements.
Most of that information was divulged in an emergency city council meeting Wednesday night. It was repeated with more detail Thursday at the community meeting that was meant to give more residents a chance to ask questions.
One aspect that was clarified involved how much homeowners would be compensated for damage. The city approved Wednesday giving homeowners up to $30,000 to cover clean-up and "immediate health hand safety issues." That includes replacing hot water heaters and furnaces. It does not include replacing lost items like couches, freezers, or flooring.
"It's anything that keeps your house safe and functional. But again, they're not reimbursing for a washer and a dryer because that doesn't keep you safe or secure," said homeowner Joanne Lefebvre.
Her basement was finished years ago by her husband. She said replacing all his hard work will have to come out of their pocket unless the city comes up with another option. City leaders initially discussed offering a $30,000 loan to residents for restoration with 2% interest, but they backed off on that idea for now.
At the community meeting, Mayor Jake Spano told the crowd that the city feels the responsibility for what happened to homes. He was joined by other city staff from public works and other departments to help field questions.
One that stood out the most was homeowners wondering how the main broke. They're frustrated that the city doesn't have an explanation. All they've learned so far is the hole in the main was 8x16 inches. Many homeowners think the break was caused by a nearby construction of a new apartment. The city has said the construction isn't the cause but is planning an investigation to find out.
All water mains in the city are inspected yearly to check for leaks. The main that broke is 66 years old. Some residents worry the same water main or others could break again, referring to the situation as living above a "time bomb."
"The reason they're giving is just no apparent reason and that's kind of not good enough," said homeowner Timothy Gipple.
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