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'How do you put a price on some things?' Who will pay for water main break damage?

Posted at 6:37 PM, Dec 30, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Crews are still trying to figure out what caused a water main to break, flooding a neighborhood near I-94 and Hawley Road in Milwaukee. Residents continue to clean up the damage, but they're wondering ‘who will pay for their losses?’

The main broke Saturday morning sending water rushing from Hawley Road into the neighborhood just south of I-94, where Kristine Brunker lives with her husband.

"It was a river coming down the road right between our houses and it was like washing the whole neighborhood away,” Brunker said. “It was terrible. It was just rushing between our houses like whitewater rapids.”

The Milwaukee Department of Public Works Spokesperson said crews determined the 48-inch water main that was in question, appeared to be in good condition, but a 16-inch main connected to it failed and needs to be replaced.

On Monday workers were out at the scene continuing the process of replacing the main, as impacted residents found more items covered in muck.

Brunker was upset as she dug through her family heirlooms, knowing they can’t be replaced.

“It's just so sad,” Brunker said.

Piles and piles of her belongings were ruined, and she still has much more to go through.

“Whatever was on the floor and the water touched, it's out the door,” Brunker said.

So far Brunker believes she has about $20,000 in losses, including her family's cars.

According to the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin, most auto policies will cover damage caused by a water main break, but most private homeowners and renters' policies won’t, so for Brunker and her neighbors filing claims with the city may be their only hope.

"How do you put a price on some things? You just can’t,” Brunker said.

Alderman Michael Murphy of District 10, said he’s optimistic claims will be approved.

“They should submit as much documentation that they have available to quantify exactly what was lost,” Murphy said.

Murphy said when submitting a claim, if you don't have receipts, make your best estimate valuing what you lost.

“I’m going to fight really hard for these people and hopefully they'll get their claims adjudicated,” Murphy said.

Brunker will take any compensation she can get.

“It'd be a godsend if we did get a little something you know because I feel the city is at fault,” Brunker said.

However, she knows money can’t replace everything.

Hawley ramps to and from the freeway are opened. Southbound lanes under I-94 have reopened, though northbound lanes remain closed.

The City of Milwaukee encourages anyone with damage from the flooding to file a claim. You have 120 days to do so. For more information click here.