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City of Pocatello says it’s not responsible for flood damage

It’s been almost two months since severe flooding hit Pocatello, and recovery is all said and done — but not for one family on Riverside Drive.

Suzanne Friend and her husband, John, said the City of Pocatello’s negligence regarding the lack of maintenance of a drain in the park nearby caused their basement to fill with three-and-a-half feet of water on Sept. 3.

But Friend and her family aren’t the only people saying the city is responsible. Three other neighbors spoke on-camera while others spoke with Friend, and all agreed: The drain was not clear before the flood.

“If they are going to maintain it, they need to make it visible,” said Julia England, who has lived close by for 46 years, “because I’ve never seen that drain.”

“My opinion as a resident of Pocatello is that the city should just step up and do what’s right,” said Mark Shapley, a two-year resident that has since moved to another area of Pocatello. “This was and is their maintenance responsibility and they clearly didn’t do it.”

“I can’t say I saw the drain right directly before, but obviously if there wasn’t an issue, why would they be digging it out?” said Kyle Miller, a resident in the area for six years.

Right now Friend and her family are still displaced, and staying in a rented apartment about 10 blocks way. She said their apartment doesn’t allow animals however, so they are frequenting back and forth numerous times per day to take care of their dog and cats.

“Some friends of my son’s offered us a place to stay,” Friend said. “There was no way we could continue staying here.”

In the first few days of flooding, she said she and her family gutted their finished basement by tearing out the Sheetrock, ripping up the carpet and sucking up the several inches of thick mud. But they had to stop.

“We lost momentum because we’re not in a situation to finance any kind of repair to the house,” Friend said, adding they are still paying a mortgage and additional rent for their apartment.

Friend and her husband filed a claim with the city’s insurance to pay for repairs, but in the letter declining responsibility, it says, “The City drainage systems, water lines and sewer lines simply could not maintain or drain the amount of water that fell in such a short time. This incident would be considered an act of nature.

The City’s legal department was unable to discuss the issue until Friday, Nov. 1. Friend and her family will be appealing the insurance’s decision.

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