Headed home from work Thursday afternoon with the intention of finishing his Valentine’s Day plans, Chad Ortiz saw a water main break on Hillside Drive in Bettendorf and felt bad for the homeowners affected by the mess.
Then he got to his house on Heather Lane and realized he was one of them.
Ortiz is among about 28 Bettendorf homeowners near Grant Wood Elementary School whose basements flooded Thursday when water from the water main break flowed into a manhole, causing sewer backups.
On Friday, Heather Lane was transformed from a quiet residential neighborhood to a parking lot for cleaning company vans and garbage receptacles as cleanup efforts continued.
City Administrator Decker Ploehn said residents affected by the sewer backups were being instructed to file claims for their cleanup costs with their insurance companies, Iowa American Water and the city. Ploehn said representatives of the city and Iowa American Water are discussing who should be responsible for covering which costs.
Ploehn said it was too soon to know how much the cleanup would cost.
The water main broke near the school about 11 a.m. Thursday, interrupting water service to 80 to 100 Iowa American customers, spokeswoman Lisa Reisen said.
Water service was restored around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and affected customers were notified that a boil order would be in place until at least midnight Friday, Reisen said.
Ortiz said he leased his basement to a tenant whose belongings were wet and muddy from the silt left behind when the water receded.
Ortiz said his tenant may have been most upset about the possible loss of his $3,000 custom-built computer system.
“They’re going to try to salvage it, but it’s not likely,” he said.
Janie Bash of Werner Restoration, one of the cleanup firms on the scene, was more confident, saying that her company has a special cleaning and drying process for electronics. She added that it’s not uncommon for there to be an event, such as a flash flood, that damages several properties in an area at once.
“When it happens, it usually happens like this,” she said.
Bash said the company will remove all of the wet and damaged items, cut away the water-soaked drywall and let the basements dry completely before sanitizing them. Then it will be up to the homeowners to find contractors to repair the damage.
Bash said her company even has a process to clean and sanitize the prized LEGO collection of a boy who lives next door to Ortiz.
Several houses up the street, Al Wilson said he had 15 to 18 inches of water in his basement. When the water receded, it left behind 1 to 1 1/2 inches of silt picked up as the water rushed out of the hole in the street and into the manhole.
Wilson said his basement was three-quarters finished, with the rest of the basement serving as a utility room. He said he has been unable to get his furnace going and thinks his washer and dryer both are ruined.
“Everything down there is trashed,” he said.
Both Ortiz and Wilson said they had never had trouble with sewer backups in their basements before.