Mountlake Terrace residents furious over frequent flood

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. -- Bryce Keener has a dead Mustang in his driveway - a horse, but no horsepower.

"I've seen flooding - flash floods and stuff - but nothing to where three cars are totaled," he said. "It was ridiculous. (The water) was coming up about six inches every 45 minutes to half hour."

Keener lives in one of three homes on 53rd Place West in Mountlake Terrace that experienced significant damage during Monday's record rain. Three cars belonging to his family have water damage; his sister's sports car, which was submerged in about three feet of water, won't start. His house was spared major flooding, he said, but may have some water damage in the insulation and on the floorboards.

Next door, 10-year Mountlake Terrace resident Sandy Carlos navigated puddles in protective footwear while walking to her bedroom in the basement. After 11 floods in her home in a decade, she and her husband are frustrated and wondering - after multiple complaints to the city - why managers haven't done more to fix an ongoing drainage issue she feels is the city's fault.

"I need to know how you're going to fix it, how you're going to make it right," Carlos said, "and I need you to hold yourself accountable."

City leaders, insurance personnel, and public works officials are all looking into the problem, said assistant city manager Scott Hugill. The city sent an insurance adjuster to the neighborhood Tuesday to assess the damage and try to figure out who - or what - is to blame.

"We're still exploring that; if the city is responsible we'll take care of it for those folks," Hugill said. "That's not to say the city's not liable - we just need to identify what the city is responsible for and identify what the next steps are."

Professional cleaning crews spent part of the day clearing Carlos' basement. They packed boxes, cleared furniture, and brought in dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air. Hugill told Carlos - and others - to file a claim with the city for the bill.

Carlos said she and her husband have paid for repairs and cleaning from most of the other flooding - in addition to investing nearly $7,000 in a sump pump system - but hoped the city would pick up the tab for repairs this time, in addition to looking at pipe and drainage issues in the area.

"We've spent thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars. We've done cleanup ourselves over and over and over again," she said. "We've done everything we possibly can to keep the water at bay and it still came in."

Hugill said the city recently installed a large stormwater pipe in the area and hoped to connect to the neighborhood soon.

"We are constantly assessing the water system and the upgrades or changes that need to be made," he added, "and this will be part of that."