Mesa family forced to front repair costs following city water main break

MESA, AZ - A Mesa family is worried they might be forced to front the roughly $30,000 in repairs to their home following a water main break involving a city pipeline near Broadway Road and Horne.

"She sent me a couple of pictures and it's overwhelming," said Stormy Proffitt, the homeowner's daughter. 

Proffitt said she was flooded with text messages from her mother on December 19 to let her know about the destructive situation. 

"It flooded an entire third of an acre," Proffitt explained. "And it was four inches of standing water inside of her home."

ABC15 was able to walk through the home. The destruction is impossible to miss, along with the smell of sitting sewer water and mold. The place has to be completely gutted.

"She [her mother] worked hard to pay off this house," said Proffitt. "She paid it off in five years and now it got all ripped away from her in 20 minutes."

Proffitt's mother had nothing to do with her home being ruined. The blame comes from a fire hydrant belonging to the City of Mesa just over their property line. A pipe busted there a couple days before the Christmas holiday. 

Proffitt said the city admitted to the family the break was their fault. But, per city policy, the family has to front the costs of all the repairs before they would reimburse them. Right now, the basic estimate of the damage is right around $30,000. 

"She doesn't have that kind of money lying around," said Proffitt. "Who does? No middle-class family or lower-class family does." 

In an email to ABC15, the city said, "It is standard practice for individuals to submit claims to the City, and the City investigates and reimburses reasonable expenses. When appropriate, the City may reimburse interim expenses during the clean-up. In this case, the City has paid for the family's lodging at an extended stay hotel during the cleanup." 

The family appreciates the reimbursement but wishes the policy was different. 

On top of the repair money they have to front, they did not have flood coverage on their home insurance. So, they will most likely have to replace all of their personal property inside the home as well.

"It's not like in Houston where they have hurricanes," said Proffitt. "She's in the middle of the city in Mesa. You're not going to expect something like that to happen at all." 

The City of Mesa is not alone in this policy. ABC15 checked in with the City of Phoenix. 

In an email, a spokesperson wrote, "If a resident believes they have damage to their property from a water main break, they can file a claim through the City’s Finance Department/Risk Management. Once the claim is filed, a Claims Adjuster investigates the claim. Any reimbursement amount to the resident comes from the determination of the investigation."

The email went on to say, "It's similar to an insurance claim. The claims adjuster will either reimburse (post-investigation) if repairs have already been made or pay the resident a dollar amount to make those repairs."

In the last fiscal year, the City of Phoenix said they have paid roughly $33,000 to homeowners who were in similar situations.

As for this Mesa family, they have started a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs they will not recover. 

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