By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Vanessa Mizutowicz was doing laundry and cleaning her upstairs bathroom recently at her Grandview Hills home when she suddenly heard water running on the first floor.
It was the evening of July 27 at around 8:30 p.m., and when she went to investigate, she said that her entire downstairs was flooded and that the water was coming from a first floor bathroom.
She immediately called her plumber, who came to her home at 8119 Tahoe Park Circle, but determined that all her pipes were working fine.
“He checked the sewage pipeline that’s a part of my property and found that it wasn’t clogged,” Mizutowicz said. “Then he looked inside the city’s pipe and he saw it was bubbling and was backed up. The city’s pipeline was actually backed up, not mine. He said because it was city of Austin property, he was not able to replace it or unclog it.”
She then called the city of Austin utility emergency line.
“I appreciated that a city of Austin water utility technician came out within two hours,” she said. “So, at 2 a.m., he was at my house. He tried to flush out the city’s sewage pipeline with a hose.”
Unable to clear the clog, the technician put in a work order for the next day. The next day, a city crew came and lowered drop-down cameras into the sewage line and determined it was clogged due to an overgrown tree root from her neighbor’s tree. Again, they tried flushing out the line with a hose but were unsuccessful. After bulldozing a hole in her front yard, Mizutowicz said the crew determined that the clog was further out, underneath the street, requiring them to bulldoze through the concrete in front of her home.
Mizutowicz said her entire downstairs was flooded, ruining a $6,000 rug from Restoration Hardware and damaging her wood floors. The morning after the flood occurred, she called the city of Austin and spoke with a representative in the pipeline operations division who handles damage claims.
“I told her that the water had destroyed the rug and rug pad and that the wood floors were damaged and buckling and separating,” she said. “She told me that the city of Austin is not responsible. They don’t recognize liability for any damage to a home resulting from a defective pipeline.”
Mizutowicz said the representative told her that while the city would have paid to have her carpet dried and the carpet pad replaced, they would not pay to have her rug cleaned because it was considered home contents.
Mizutowicz said she has homeowner’s insurance through Farmer’s Insurance but when she tried to file a claim, she was told that her damage did not qualify because it involved a defective sewer pipeline.
“My insurance says the city of Austin is responsible for this,” she said.
Mizutowicz said the city should take responsibility for her damage, as she was the only homeowner affected by the clogged pipe.
“I hope they’ll dry clean my rug and repair my wood floor,” she said. “That’s what I want them to do.”