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'Give us our homes back:' Flooded St. Louis Park residents consider legal action against city

CBS News Live
CBS News Minnesota Live

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- With two water main breaks in less than two weeks, some Twin Cities homeowners say they're ready to take their city to court.

The first break happened on May 21 and the second on June 3, both in the same area of St. Louis Park. More than 50 homes were impacted, with many sharing photos and videos of several inches of sewage in their basements.

"We were almost at 2 feet of sewage water," Jennifer Snyder said.

The Snyder family will never forget May 21. It's when their basement playroom flooded damaging nearly everything from the ground up.

"Furnace was gone, washer and dryer, shower, toilet, sink, carpet, walls, all of my boys' toys. Everything down here was gone," Snyder said.

City officials said a 12-inch water main broke, spilling more than a million gallons into more than 50 homes in St. Louis Park. A second break occurred less than two weeks later in the same location.

The city said the pipe has since been replaced and the cause is unknown. The city is hiring a consultant to analyze the broken water main and try to determine a cause.

At a city council meeting Monday, leaders are expected to discuss a reimbursement program of up to $40,000 per household, additional city funding and a loan program.

For many residents with damage, the financial resources won't be enough to restore basements to normal. For example, the Snyders are already looking at more than $65,000 to rebuild. It's unclear if the city's money could cover more than mitigation.

Jennifer Snyder

"The city insurance is not enough and it's not gonna be enough, and we want the city insurance payout and enough to cover to rebuild our homes because it shouldn't fall on us, period," Snyder said.

To make matters worse, they're in the process of moving and selling their home.

"And now that is not certain anymore," she said.

Snyder said some neighbors are considering filing a class-action lawsuit against their city.

"Nobody wants to do that, but what choice do we have when we're not even being taken care of by our own city?" she said.

As the city continues its damage assessment on the second water break, Snyder demands accountability and action to help those still uprooted by the first.

"Give us our homes back. And take responsibility," she said.

A city spokesperson released this statement on the matter Sunday:

These water main break incidents have been nearly the sole focus of city elected officials and many city staff since May 21 as we look for ways to assist residents both financially and logistically as they recovered from the first break and now a second. Regardless, we understand residents' frustration as both incidents have had a profound impact on their lives. The city is committed to working with residents to ensure their lives are returned to normal as quickly as possible and to providing them with as many resources as possible to do so.

A city council meeting is scheduled Monday at 6:30 p.m. followed by a neighborhood meeting June 8, at 6 p.m.

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