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Sewers back up in southeast Perham

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Last week’s downpour caused more than just mild flooding in the Perham area – it also caused sewer systems on the south side of town to back up, causing wastewater to flood into several area homes.

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When parts of Perham lost power during the storm, the lift stations for both the sanitary and storm water systems temporarily shut down, despite their backup generator, said City Manager Kelcey Klemm.

“The storm sewer lift station by the liquor store was out of power, which caused a lot of rainwater to back up, and a lot of rainwater backed up into the fairgrounds property, which is where our main sanitary system is, and that basically ran into our sanitary lift station and overfilled that,” he explained.

With both systems out of service, the wastewater had nowhere to go except into nearby homes, such as Joe and Becky Motzko’s.

“The water came up to here,” Joe said, touching his leg just below the knee.

The couple estimates that the damage to their property totals a few thousand dollars and has doubts about how much, if any, will be covered by their renter’s insurance.

Keith Boehlke, who lives next door and whose home was also flooded with sewage, had similar doubts.

“Unless you had sump pump and sewer backup coverage on your homeowner’s insurance, they won’t cover it. It’s not your problem, it’s the city’s problem,” he said.

Klemm had advice for residents affected by the backup, saying “we (the city) encourage them to work with their insurance and keep track of expenses. If they’re not covered, they can submit a claim to the city.”

However, there is no guarantee that residents will be reimbursed by the city, Klemm added. He explained that payment would be determined by the city’s insurance adjustor and that it’s not uncommon for the claim to be denied because “the insurance company looks at this as an extreme weather event, kind of an act of God.”

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