Tuesday, December 18, 2012

invitation to write in * today * in support of the DC Flood Assistance bill

First, see this brief 12/17/2012 message from ANC 5C04 Commissioner Mark Mueller:  ``Please shoot at least a quick email to council members and Mayor Gray telling them to support CM McDuffie's bill to help Bloomingdale flood victims.``
Now see this message from Bloomingdale resident Betsy McDaniel, who is commenting on the Email of support from Bloomingdale resident and flooding victim Casey Torgusson.
All - Tim Clark from CM McDuffie`s office was at the Bloomingdale Civic Association meeting this evening [Monday, 12/17/2012]. He strongly suggested that neighbors write in to support this bill which will be up for second reading and vote on Tuesday. Their office and others are receiving emails * opposing * this legislation.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Casey Torgusson
Date: Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM
Subject: [Flood Issues (BdaleLeDroit)|#352] Please support the DC Flood Assistance Fund Act
To: PMENDELSON @ dccouncil.us, mbrown @ dccouncil.us, DCATANIA @ dccouncil.us, JGRAHAM @ dccouncil.us, JACKEVANS @ dccouncil.us, MCheh @ dccouncil.us, MBowser @ dccouncil.us, kmcduffie @ dccouncil.us, TWells @ dccouncil.us, YAlexander @ dccouncil.us, MBarry @ dccouncil.us, ``Orange, Vincent B. (Council)`` , ``Gray, Vincent (EOM)``
Cc: flood-issues-bdaleledroit-park- @ googlegroups.com, craigt @ washpost.com
Dear Councilmembers and Mayor Gray
I am writing to urge you to support the DC Flood Assistance Fund.  My home and my neighbors` homes in the Bloomingdale, Ledroit Park and Shaw Neighborhoods, as well as elsewhere across the city have been repeatedly flooded by raw sewage and stormwater backups since July of this year as a result of DC Water`s failure to maintain a functioning sewer system.  In our case, we`ve been forced to spend well over $10,000 in clean up and repair costs, draining our savings and were forced out of the basement apartment where we had been living.  Despite countless hours scrubbing and cleaning with bleach the walls and floors of our home became mold infested and had to be ripped out and replaced and many of our belongings were destroyed.  We now live in fear every time there is rain in the forecast.  Our neighbors have all endured similar expenses and losses.  Many, including elderly and families with children have not been able to afford to take the expensive step of remediating for mold by ripping out walls and floors time and time again – instead forced to live in mold infested homes.
Since the sewage backups began I`ve learned that DC Water has known about the flooding issues in the area due to undersized pipes since it took over control of the sewage system from the Federal Government nearly 40 years ago.  In that time they did absolutely nothing to address the problem, counting on residents to give up and move on after each sewage backup when their calls for action went unanswered.  Despite its negligence in performing its most basic duty - maintaining and repairing its infrastructure, DC Water has denied all damage claims from the sewage backups, stating that they have no liability.  If they don`t have liability for maintaining the system, then who does?  
I understand the concerns about the possibility of all ratepayers covering the losses for a few hundred households, but this is the principle we follow in providing collective services as a city.  The damages caused have been through no fault of our own.  Further, there is no reason that DC Water would have to choose to fund the damage claims from an additional ratepayer fee given that it already has a $20 million surplus which could easily cover the proposed $1 million fund.  This is a red herring aimed at driving away support for the bill.
Some have also noted that it`s the homeowner`s responsibility to provide adequate insurance coverage for their home.  While I completely agree, in this case insurance coverage is not possible.  Most companies do not provide specific sewage backup coverage and those that do have denied all claims as the fault lies with DC Water`s system/storm.  I don`t know of anyone whose damage was covered other than policies covering large condo buildings.  Since the flooding I`ve been trying to add a sewage backup rider to my policy and cannot find an insurance company willing to offer it in this area (for good reason).  Even if the damage was covered by insurance it would not be possible to make 4 separate claims in one year and still maintain coverage.
We have not asked to be treated as a sewage holding pond by DC Water.  I urge you to please help us repair some of the physical, financial and emotional devastation that has been done by voting for this bill.  Without the council`s help we will continue to be victimized with impunity by DC Water and face devastating financial and health consequences.
Thank you for your consideration
Casey Torgusson
Rhode Island Ave NW

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