MARYSVILLE — Denise Jantz has a gutted basement and a torn-up backyard, and like her neighbor Roy Meyer, she believes that someone should be held accountable for it.
Jantz lives in the 3800 block of 122nd Street NE in Marysville, and like Meyer, she found her basement flooding within a matter of minutes on the afternoon of Jan. 28.
“It was 5:30 p.m. when I first noticed it,” Jantz said. “By 6 p.m., I’d gotten to the Arlington Hardware store just before it closed, to buy a sump-pump and a five-gallon bucket. Within an hour and a half of first noticing it, I had three inches of standing water in my basement. By 8 p.m., I’d called the fire department, but there wasn’t much they could do. My daughter pumped out 500 gallons with the shop-vac by 11:30 p.m. and the water level was still rising. That water just came in like a flood.”
In spite of Jantz’s brother digging a 60-foot-long ditch in her backyard to help drain out the excess water, she recalled that her backyard was filled with 6-9 inches of standing water at one point, deep enough that “I couldn’t even see the trench.” The erosion from the one end of the ditch, just under the concrete of her back porch, has cracked the concrete, and Jantz is already dreading the power bill she’s going to get from running three dehumidifiers simultaneously to try and combat the mold that’s already started sprouting in her attic.
“My sump-pump was pumping 2,000 gallons an hour for 24 hours before the water started receding,” Jantz said. “I had to tear out 1,000 square feet of carpet, and take out all the cabinets and the hearth of the fireplace, and I can smell the sewer effluent from when people’s septic systems failed.”
Meyer likewise reported that the 100-foot-by-25-foot backyard of his parents’ property was under eight inches to a full foot of water.
“I was pumping for a solid week,” Meyer said. “For a while, I was literally working 24 hours a day to try and get it out.”
Jantz believes WinCo Foods, in the 3900 block of 116th Street NE in Marysville, exacerbated the flooding at least by pumping out an overflowing retention pond at the height of the storm, but Michael Read, vice president of public and legal affairs for WinCo, asserted that this water was pumped through a hose into another retention pond, near the Kohl’s store in the 3700 block of the same street.
“As per the city’s instructions, we will now pump our overflow into another retention pond even further away, but not because of this issue,” Read said. “It will be to use a retention pond with an even larger capacity. This is nothing new. Everyone is experiencing the same issues here.”
City of Marysville Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen agreed, pointing out that flooding is not an uncommon occurrence in the area due to the high ground water level of the region, which was compounded by the intensity of recent precipitation in the area.
“We had eight inches of rain in January, which is not normal,” said Nielsen, who actually agreed with Jantz that the sandy soil poses a problem. “WinCo’s system is totally separate from the water conveyance lines in this neighborhood, and their water flows south, whereas this neighborhood lies to the north of WinCo.”
Nielsen met with Jantz, Meyer and roughly two dozen other residents of the neighborhood on Feb. 5, all of whom reported either standing water in their basements and/or failures of their septic systems. Since then, Nielsen has dispatched crews to check the conveyance lines to ensure that the flow of water out of the neighborhood is not being interrupted.
In the meantime, Denise Jantz has a carport full of foul-smelling carpets and a basement that’s been stripped to the bare concrete, while Meyer has an 80-year-old widowed mother living in a home that she and her husband bought 48 years ago, but which the sewer effluent has rendered “contaminated.”
“My insurance wouldn’t cover this even if I had flood insurance,” Jantz said. “It’s considered ‘groundwater intrusion,’ so it doesn’t even fall under the heading of a flood. I’m supposedly at fault for not maintaining my property to prevent this.”
“My dad passed away just last year,” Meyer said. “My mom is already paying nearly all her money in taxes. Who’s going to pay for these damages? Who is responsible for this?”