DENVER -- A flooded basement is every homeowner's worst nightmare. But having it happen over and over and consist of not just water, but city sewage, has amplified the problem for a Denver family and a nearby church.
“I think you can see that water mark -- so it came up to 13 inches. We had to do a sheet rock cut two feet up and we had to cut out all the door jambs,” said James Riley, who had his basement fill up with sewage water on Christmas Eve. “It’s myself and my wife that are pulling our hair out; our time is consumed with this right now.”
The Riley family wasn’t alone.
The Calvary Apostolic Church across the street had its basement fill up as well.
Church leaders told Denver7 it's the third time in about 15 years the church has had a city sewer line back up into the basement, but this time was the worst.
During a tour of the church basement, which houses the K-8 school, Denver7 could see the widespread damage of the flood waters.
“The water was, they said, about 16 inches. And it was the sewage water so it had that smell and we had to be careful,” said Stacy Mitchell, Assistant Administrator of Calvary Apostolic Church.
Classrooms, gym equipment, assessment materials and curriculum were all destroyed, Mitchell said.
“The teachers' desks, plus an extra desk, [and] tables that they sit at,” said Mitchell. “The only thing we can control is our attitude about it and how we handle it.”
Riley is a plumber by trade and said to have city sewer back-up into a home and business is extremely rare. But he says he believes there is a big problem within the lines operated by Holly Hills Water and Sanitation.
Denver7 reached out to the sanitation department’s attorney, who said the company has been doing everything it can to hire cleaning companies to fix the problem for both the family and the church.
Denver7 also reached out to the insurance company, which has yet to determine just how much fault, if any, rests on the sanitation district before it pays out the claim.
The insurance company declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing claim.
Riley said he’s spent over $8,000 out-of-pocket trying to repair his home while he and his family stay elsewhere. Church leaders say their damage could rise to as much as $500,000.
“As far as any personal property, as far as rebuilding the basement, they haven’t said they’ll pay for any of that yet. This past Saturday was a full month since this happened on Christmas Eve and we still don’t know what we’re being reimbursed for,” said Riley.
The Rileys nor church leaders have been given a timeline as to when their lives could return to normal.