Questions remain about who will pay for water main break damage

(WBIR-Knoxville) While the roads are back open and water service has been restored, there are still many unanswered questions surrounding last week's massive water main break downtown.

KUB said it cannot speculate on what caused the pipe, installed in 1927, to burst late Thursday night, spewing water for hours.

"With a water main break, unfortunately they just, they do happen. And the cause is really, really hard to determine," said Andrea May, KUB spokesperson. "There can be so many variables that can factor in as far as weather conditions, shifting soil, things like that, to where finding that one cause is really, really difficult to determine."

The weight of the water caused the roof to collapse at John H. Coleman Company, a heating and air conditioning business located at the intersection of State and Main streets. The road also washed into the business, destroying the building with flooding, mud, and debris.

"No one is allowed back here, this area is condemned, and I think the entire building will be condemned," said Buddy Cruze, the owner. "I'd be surprised if it's not. So we're taking all of our files, we've been here for 69 years, we have 69 years worth of files in here that we're moving next door."

Cruze moved administrative offices to his house in West Knoxville, while crews continue to work in spaces unaffected from the damage. While his company is still in business, he said he hopes to get an answer from KUB soon.

"They're assuring us that they're getting the engineer's report as of today or tomorrow, they're going to look that over, and I was hoping that maybe by the end of this week we have something to talk about," said Cruze.

10News asked KUB who is liable when a water main break like this happens.

"The specifics I can't get into, but we do have a claims department and their position is to work closely with the customer, work closely with the insurance companies as needed, as it calls for," said May. "Just know that we are working closely with the customer and work hard to get a resolution between the two of us."

May said the pipes did not have a history of any problems, and passed previous inspections.

Cruze said it's apparent KUB is liable for the damage, even if it could not have been prevented.

"I hope we get treated fairly. I'm in business, I'm not KUB, but I treat homeowners in what I think is a fair manner, and when we mess up, we fix the problem," said Cruze. "I think it's the American way, and I think you just take care of your issues when you create them. So in the end I just hope I get treated fairly."

10News spoke with attorneys who specialize in insurance disputes. They said with so many variables, it really is a case by case basis on who should pay for the damages, since it could be a contractor, sub contractor, manufacturer, service provider, or a number of entities at fault.

KUB crews have been working around the clock, in 12-hour shifts, since what it calls the largest, most complex water main break it's ever dealt with.

"We're so thankful for the hard work of our crews who worked around the clock and we're just so happy that the road is in fact open and as you see, cars are driving on it," said May.

Monday, all six commercial buildings affected had running water, and the closed roads were back open.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment