MINSTER – Residents with homes damaged by May 17 flood waters allegedly coming from a $2.6 million construction site on Second Street say they are prepared to file a class action lawsuit if the village of Minster does not pay for the costs not covered by their homeowners insurance.
Resident Lisa Goebel said the storm preparations done by contractor Helms and Sons failed to keep flood water from the nearby canal out of the 20-foot deep construction area.
The flooding caused debris to be washed into the two lift stations there, burning out both mechanisms and allowing water and sewage to back up into homes.
According to Goebel, almost everyone along the affected area on Second Street have expenses well over their insurance coverage, often amounting to thousands of dollars.
But Goebel and others feel they have not been given clear answers on how the damage will be dealt with.
“We still have neighbors who 60 days later still can’t use their homes because of mold,” she said. “We have elderly people on our block unsure what to do to get help,” she added.
She said the village had promised at an earlier council meeting to cover the uninsured costs for flood damage.
Don Harrod, Minster Village administrator, had said he had turned those uncovered expenses into their insurer, the Ohio Plan, but now the Ohio Plan has ruled the contractor, not the village, was liable for paying for damages.
Application to other funding sources have also proved unhelpful. Aid had been sought from federal and state emergency authorities to deal with the damage from severe weather this spring but it was determined by federal guidelines that the flood damage did not qualify for FEMA help.
Jay Carey, external affairs chief for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency in Columbus, said that in Auglaize County, 26 homes qualified for assistance from the Small Business Administration in the form of low interest loans.
He added FEMA aid has gone to those 2,100 structures in 11 counties heavily damaged by the 21 recorded tornadoes on May 26/27 of this year.
All of which has not offered satisfactory answers from residents wondering who will pay the bills. Goebel has said the residents have an attorney ready to sue the village if necessary to cover their uninsured costs.
Goebel maintains they have been kept in the dark about what was going to be done. She said a lack of clear communication about who will pay for the flood damage is adding insult to the injury of dealing with a $2.6 million sanitary sewer project in their neighborhood.
She said she has taken many pictures of the project and its damage to her yard and feels the village had no regard for their concerns.
Harrod said now that they have a ruling from Ohio Plan about who is liable, they will be able to provide some answers at the next Village Council meeting, to be held Tuesday, July 16, at 6:30 p.m.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.