All too often, the consequences of someone else’s negligence can be life-altering to innocent victims. The attorneys and staff at Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa, LLP understand how overwhelming things can be for individuals and families who suffer from damage caused by catastrophic events.
At approximately 4:30 a.m. on January 5, 2008, the left embankment of the Truckee Canal collapsed allowing water to escape from the canal into a large residential area of the City of Fernley, Nevada. Once the embankment breached, the water flooded the streets, ultimately destroying many homes and leaving people and animals stranded. Over 1,400 individuals experienced the trauma of waking up in the early hours to flood waters entering their homes or filling up the streets outside their homes. Damages totaled approximately $150,000,000 and many people were left sad, angry, overwhelmed, and unsure of what their next step should be.
The following is the story of one of the Fernley Flood victims and what she and her family went through during the above-mentioned catastrophic event.
I was sleeping on the morning of January 5, 2008, and sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. my husband, Jason yelled, “Wake up! Wake up! We’re being flooded!” He said he saw 6 to 8 feet of standing water outside. While Jason called 911 I quickly went to look out my kitchen door that had a high window. There was already water up 2 inches on the glass of the high window. Then I glanced over at the sliding glass door and there was water up 4 feet. The 911 attendant told Jason they had no idea how long it might take to rescue us and that we should do our best to get to high ground and wait. They told him they would send help as soon as possible but offered no details of how long it would take. We quickly woke up and grabbed all three children, our new puppy, and our two cats and put them on top of our new California King bed in the master bedroom. Jason started throwing some clothes into a duffle bag. We let each of the children quickly choose one toy they wanted to save. We didn’t realize how extensive the flooding was, but within 15 minutes after calling 911 our kids started screaming and really panicking. Water was coming through the light sockets and bubbling up beneath the carpet. It was coming up through the manhole in our bedroom closet and there were huge mounds of water coming up beneath the carpet. It was extremely frightening. I put my boots on and went down the hallway to the living room to our front window that was approximately 8′ by 8′. I opened the window to see if we could get out and in doing so, freezing cold water immediately rushed into the house. I saw a rescue boat go by and the rescuers yelled for us to please wait and they would be right back to get us. I looked and saw our neighbor across the street in their home frantically waving for help. By then the water was coming in extremely fast. It had been about 45 minutes since we called 911 and there was 2 feet of freezing water inside our house, rising steadily.
In an attempt to get us out, Jason then decided that he would go get our raft that was hanging out in the garage. Our house had a hallway that led to the door to the laundry room. The laundry room had a door to the garage. Jason entered the laundry room and then when he opened the door from the laundry room to the garage, water rushed in with such force that the laundry door behind him slammed shut. Jason was unable to open the door and was stuck in there for a good hour, while water started getting higher and higher. The icy water lifted the washer on top of him and he became pinned beneath it. He had to climb out from underneath the washer while I was outside the laundry room in the hallway trying to open the door. Somehow he and I frantically pried the door open and finally he escaped the laundry room and into the hallway. By that time it had been 1 hour and 15 minutes since we called 911 and there was now 3 feet of standing water in the house. By then our master bedroom was filling up with water that was lifting the mattress off the bed and it was beginning to float. The kids were screaming with fear and we began to realize that the water was not going to stop. Our furniture was also floating around and our refrigerator tipped over. It didn’t look like the water would ever stop and we had no idea how much longer we would have to wait for our rescuers to arrive. It was approximately 16′ down the hallway from our master bedroom to the kitchen area. We knew we had to carry the kids out of the master bedroom and Jason and I were terribly afraid as we were freezing and we couldn’t feel our legs. Somehow we managed to lift and carry Ben (9), Gwen (8), Dylan (3), and the dog to the kitchen. We had no choice but to leave our two cats behind and prayed that they would survive. My daughter, youngest son, the dog, and I got on top of our kitchen table. Jason and Ben got up and sat on top of our kitchen counter. We all sat there for about another ½ hour and it was true bedlam. The kids asked if we were all going to die there. They wanted answers to questions that we couldn’t give them. They wanted to know where we were going to go. It was truly mass hysteria! We were all crying. Jason thought he could perhaps back our lifted up truck and get us out. As he went to try to get out the front window, the water was so high and the current so strong that he almost got swept away. He managed to grab onto something and pulled himself back into the house through the window. By then there was only 1″ at the top of my high window in my kitchen door that you could see through. The water was that high. Our 6′ fence in our back yard was completely submerged in dirty, mucky water. Now it had been 1 hour and 40 minutes since we had woke up. The rescuers began knocking and pounding at the front door for us to let them in. Jason got off the counter and made his way through the deep water to the living room. The couch was floating as high as the door knob right in front of the front door and he managed to move it away from the door. They told him to back away from the door. They took the pointed end of the rescue boat and broke down our front door. The resulting current of water was so strong that it quickly traveled into the dining area. The force of the water broke the table legs right out from beneath me and the kids and the dog. The rescuers pushed the boat in ahead of them and retrieved Gwen off the table just before it broke and put her into the boat. Little Dylan and I and the dog were still on the table when it broke in half. 3 year old Dylan fell into the icy water up to his neck before I dived in and caught him right before he went under. I handed him to rescuers who put him and the dog in the boat. Jason lifted Ben off the counter and into the boat. I am 5’3″ tall and by then the water was up over my bust line. It was so high that the boat was at my chest and neither Jason or I could get enough leverage to get into the boat. The rescuers had to back the boat out of the house and took it outside to a window. Jason and I had to wade through high, freezing water to the window that we climbed through before finally getting into the boat. We could barely feel our legs for two hours. Our Blazer with an 8″ lift was completely underwater and you could barely see green at the very top of it through the water.
Our firm teamed up other with other local firms in order to help protect the rights of the Fernley Flood victims and get to the bottom of who was responsible for the catastrophic damage caused by the flood. To date, our firm has helped recover over $13,000,000 for the victims of the flood and continue to pursue more compensation for the victims’ losses.
Our firm is here to help the innocent victims of such incidents that occur due to the negligence of others. While nothing can be done to change the history of events that occur, Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa, LLP can make sure that victims of catastrophic events are compensated and justice is served. This includes justice served against insurance companies who have engaged in bad faith practices. In fact, our firm recently and successfully navigated claims to obtain a substantial verdict against Everest Insurance Company on the basis of bad faith.
If you or a family member has been involved in an event that has caused catastrophic damage, call us to discuss your rights and what your next step should be. We are here to help get you through the difficult and overwhelming experiences of dealing with such events.