DECATUR, Ala. – Vonnie Billings says her grandson can’t get into his bedroom to do his homework because the floors are saturated with water.
Billings says water started flowing into her apartment on Wimberly Drive in Decatur after heavy rains on Saturday. The water quickly spread to the entire apartment. While the standing water has receded, what’s left are soaking wet carpets – which Billings says are leading to a strong odor.
A maintenance worker with the apartment management company witnessed the flooding inside the apartment Saturday, according to Billings. She says the worker Face Timed someone in management. Billings claims the manager asked, “Can we blame it on the city?”.
Monday morning, Billings called and sent text messages to the management company, asking them to clean up the water. A message from an employee with the company reads:
“There is nothing we can do. You need to contact your insurance company and also try the Red Cross to get someone to come extract the water. But we can not do it.”
News 19 spoke with the apartment manager, Audrey Ward, Monday afternoon. Originally, Ward said that she was unaware of the flooding issue and that Mrs. Billings had not reported it to the office. Ward later said that the text message from her employee was a miscommunication; she claims she had instructed the employee to tell Billings to contact the American Red Cross about replacing damaged personal items, not about extracting the water. Ward said she called on maintenance workers to extract the water from Billings apartment Monday afternoon.
However, Ward said she doesn’t believe the apartment management company is to blame for the flood. She claims the City of Decatur has failed to clear debris from nearby drainage ditches, leading to flood conditions.
News 19 reached out to the City of Decatur, but a spokesperson said this was an issue to be handled by Decatur Utilities. However, Decatur Utilities redirected us back to the city. On Tuesday morning, a spokesperson with the City of Decatur said that crews did remove debris from the ditches on Sunday, a day after the flooding was reported. The spokesperson said the sheer amount of water, not the presence of debris, was responsible for the flooding.
Billings confirms that the apartment management company did send someone out to extract the water Monday afternoon, but she isn’t convinced this will solve the underlying issue. She also wants to encourage others to read the fine print on their renters’ insurance to see if they will be covered if their home floods.