Restoration and insurance companies swamped with calls after storm floods basements - East Idaho News

Restoration and insurance companies swamped with calls after storm floods basements

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IDAHO FALLS — From flooding basements, to leaking roofs, to cars swimming in underpasses — eastern Idaho is dealing with the repercussions of Tuesday’s massive spring storm.

Businesses and homes were flooded Tuesday evening following the three hour storm, which brought 1.27 inches of rain and hail to Idaho Falls and the surrounding area. Flash flooding occurred across the region.

RELATED | ‘Turn around, don’t drown,’ say public officials after flooding in Idaho Falls

The Mountain America Center was holding graduation for Idaho Falls School District 91 students Tuesday night. Water began to drip from the roof above into the Hero Arena. Trash cans were put in place. Spokeswoman Kelsey Salsbery said it was cleaned up right away and thankfully did not cause any damage. She said, anywhere there was a leak, it was already being worked on and fixed.

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The graduation at the Hero Arena. There are trash cans out to catch the water. | Courtesy photo

In the city of Idaho Falls, four city buildings dealt with flooding including the Idaho Falls Civic Center. According to city spokesman Eric Grossarth, there was somewhere between four to five feet of water that damaged the basement of the Civic Center. There is additionally no power in the building currently.

The Civic Center is closed for now and there is not a set time for reopening. An event called Bonneville Ballroom was originally scheduled to be held at the Civic Center Wednesday night but has been relocated to the Colonial Theater.

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Damage inside the Civic Center due to the water from the storm. | Courtesy City of Idaho Falls
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The door is bent inside the Civic Center from the water pressure from the storm. | Courtesy City of Idaho Falls
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Damage from flood water inside city hall. | Courtesy City of Idaho Falls

Other city buildings affected by flooding include city hall, the animal shelter and the senior center.

Stacy Graves, an Idaho Falls resident said her 23-year-old sons yard outside of his house looked like a lake. It was submerged in water from the storm.

“The water was going in through the basement windows, and it had filled up the entire basement. The main level had about three inches of water in it as well,” Graves said.

In a picture Graves sent to EastIdahoNews, it shows the viewpoint as if you were standing on the main floor of her sons house looking down into a puddle of water. That puddle of water are the stairs to his basement. The water went all the way up to the ceiling.

flooded basement
Courtesy Stacy Graves

Graves said they started pumping water out and they found there was additionally a broken water line in the basement.

There’s massive damage from the storm. The furnace and the water heater along with the washer and dryer are located in the basement of the Idaho Falls home.

“The furnace was only a year old and the water heater was only six months old. He had new carpet put in because he was getting ready to put the house on the market and sell it,” Graves said.

He has homeowners insurance but no claim has been officially filed yet.

“We are being told that floods are not covered under insurance, so we are navigating that and trying to decided what exactly to do with that,” she said.

She said he is overwhelmed and she is feeling the same for him.

“It’s hard to know how to direct him and how to best support him but I just told him we will take it day by day…and we will rebuild it and do what we have to do,” Graves said tearing up.

Are floods covered by insurance?

According to several insurance agencies online such as Allstate and Progressive, no type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowners policies. The flooding can come from storms, over-saturated ground or overflowing or surging bodies of water like rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans.

You can typically purchase a separate flood insurance policy, which can be covered by the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance can cover buildings, the contents in a building or both. There’s also the option of private insurance.

According to FEMA online, just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage.

Mike Infanger with Infanger Insurance in Idaho Falls is independent and works with a lot of different companies like Travelers Insurance, Safeco, and Progressive. Phones have been busy Wednesday with people calling due to the flooding. He said people don’t typically get flood insurance around Idaho Falls.

“Most people do not get it because A: it’s expensive and B: around here, it hardly ever happens,” he said. “It usually doubles your insurance to just add the line of flood coverage and that’s the reason most people don’t do it.”

Infanger said the only time he writes flood insurance is for people that are in a flood zone. However, in Idaho Falls, he says hardly anybody is in a flood zone.

“I would bet 95% of Idaho Falls does not have flood insurance,” he said.

And that means, typically, the homeowner is responsible paying for damages.

Courtesy Leonel Lopez

Restoration companies swamped

Restoration businesses like Healthy Home Environmental Services have been busy trying to help as many people as they can with flooded basements. They have been to at least 10 homes so far resulting from the storm and have more on the way.

“I’ve seen two to three inches (of water) in the houses so far,” said David Mathison, operations manager with the company. “We have all kinds of carpet damage and drywall damages.”

Mathison said water went through window sills of basements down where there is egress windows.

He said typically, they will go into a home and assess the situation of the damage. Pictures are taken and there’s a moisture meter pen that is put in the carpet that traces how far the moisture has gone. Fans are put out to help dry the affected areas and a dehumidifier is set to absorb the moisture in the air. When everything is dried out, then the area can go through the rebuilding process.

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One of the homes Healthy Home Environmental Services has been helping to clean up flood damage. | Courtesy David Mathison

Mathison said there is another restoration company in town that they partner with that had asked for some help.

“They had come to us asking for extra fans for drying out carpet. We couldn’t give any fans because we used them all. They purchased some,” Mathison said. “We gave them four different houses that were flooded that they could look at because we are all over the place. I would say all the restoration companies in town are just swamped with calls.”

It’s possible more flooding could potentially happen as heavy rain is in the forecast for eastern Idaho on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Pocatello.

RELATED | More heavy rain and possible flooding in the forecast for eastern Idaho Wednesday

As a result of predicted rainfall on Wednesday, the NWS has issued a flood watch for the Snake River Plain, which includes the following cities: Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Pocatello, St. Anthony, Rigby, Blackfoot, Rupert, Fort Hall, Heyburn, Almo, Rockland, American Falls, Shelley, Firth, Holbrook, Oakley, Malta, Albion and Burley.

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Erica Eaton
Erica Eaton,