A Soggy Mess

Doug Boock and Carol Townsend
Over 6 inches of rain this past weekend made basements, storm sewers and yards such as this one on Galva’s northwest side all inundated with water and residents hustling to keep property dry and safe.

Basements soaked, manhole covers were forced skyward and area residents suffered aching backs this past weekend - all because of over 6 inches of rain that looked to hide anyplace it could.

The deluge ?- about 6.6 inches, according to Galva Water Superintendent Greg Thompson ?- sent residents scurrying to their basements, where they pumped, bailed and generally willed the water back outside to where it came from. It was a challenge for many.

“We had a lot of people who normally don’t have water, have water. That’s what freaked out most of them,” said Terry Anderson of Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air Condition in Galva.

Anderson and other local plumbers were on the run from Saturday morning through much of Sunday, answering residents’ pleas for advice and help. Fortunately, few if any suffered major damage.

“Everything could be replaced,” Anderson said of his calls.

Many people had sump pumps installed by the time they called Anderson. A lot of callers wanted to know what they could do to fight the water. Options were few: either pump it out of the house somehow or just wait until the water recedes and then clean up.   

That kept Hathaway’s True Value busy Saturday.

“It was a little hectic, a little challenging at times, but it was fun,” owner Jack Hathaway said.

Hathaway said people were buying sump pumps, items to repair pipes and hoses and about anything else needed to move water.

Dollar General had light customer traffic Saturday morning when the storm was hitting, but sales picked up as the day wore on.

“Sales were strong, but no stronger than they normally are,” Dollar General store manager Janet Lawson said Tuesday.

Lawson said customers bought bleach, mops and other things to clean basements.

“I was feeling bad for them. Little did I know that when I got home . . .” two inches of basement water awaited her, Lawson said, laughing. 

Galva city workers were busy. Storm sewers quickly filled with water Saturday morning, sending water into the sanitary sewers. Some residents had sewage coming up through drains in their basements.

All city workers were called in to work and all city pumps were activated. Three new 3-inch pumps were also bought to help out. Galva Fire Department was also out with its pumps, trying to relieve some of the sewers.

Thompson noted that part of the problem was rainfall during the previous two weeks.

“We’d now had 10.89 inches of rainfall and the month is not half over,” he said Monday. “That is why we had such problems -? the ground was already saturated.”

Several city workers worked into the night Saturday and some worked Sunday.

Galva Police Department responded by calling all six officers to duty on Saturday. They kept an eye on city sewer pumps and manholes around town, making sure no one was playing around or endangering themselves by being near the pumps or manholes.

“Once we got things going we sent some guys home but had a couple guys on duty through Sunday,” Chief Jerry Clark said.

Police received no emergency calls due to the storm, Clark added.

Galva Food Center IGA had some water leak in several spots of the store, but supervisor Chris Lewis said store staff worked very hard to ensure customer safety.

“We all helped and did whatever we could to keep floors dry and people from falling down,” she said. “We had quite the Saturday. We really did.”

Lewis said customer traffic was good Saturday, but sales weren’t out of the ordinary.

“A lot of them were just doing their weekly shopping. I don’t think there was anything that stuck out more than anything else,” she said of products sold.

Lewis did note, though, that video rentals were down during the day, perhaps because people were fighting water at home.

Residents had water enter their basements at varying amounts. At least one reported having six inches of water in their basement.

Kevin Collinson was one of the fortunate ones.

“I was lucky. I just had a little dampness here and there,” said Collinson, who lives in the 300 block of Northwest 1st Street in Galva. “We just stayed at home and watched TV for about a day and a half.”

Collinson said he’d heard of someone in a town elsewhere who’d gotten 16 inches of water in their basement.

“It wasn’t that hard of a rain; it just kept coming,” Collinson added. “When you get six to eight inches of rain, it’s going to find places that it hasn’t looked before.”

Construction of the Big River ethanol plant on Galva’s east side wasn’t affected much, site manager Ralph Peel said.

“They’re (workers) still working. We’ve got good drainage around here,” Peel said Monday. 

At least two Galva insurance offices reported having few calls from policyholders.

“It’s been pretty quiet,” reported Dan Meyer of Country Insurance, who’d had just four calls by Tuesday morning. “We’ve had some sewer backups but mainly it’s just seepage.”

“We’ve had very few (calls),” agreed Stacey Kendall of Chuck Hay Insurance. “It’s surprised me.”

The low number of insurance claims reported could be because policy deductibles exceed damage amounts and because coverage for most types of water damage isn’t part of the basic homeowners policy; it needs to be purchased by endorsement.

Kendall noted that furnaces, washers, dryers and other electronic equipment which has controls damaged by water could tally larger repair bills, perhaps worth filing an insurance claim.