Official: Flood that damaged 22 homes was 'absolutely avoidable'

Families have been waiting for weeks to learn the cause.

CANYON COUNTY - Twenty-two families in Canyon County are still trying to clean out their homes after a culvert on Midway Road collapsed and sent thousands of gallons of water into their homes.

Weeks later though, those families say they still aren't hearing anything about what caused the culvert to collapse.

KTVB spoke with several people that live in this neighborhood, and they say things are still really hard.

Some families are living in tents in their backyard, others are living in mobile homes on their driveways.

All of them are still waiting for help from whatever local government agency ends up being at fault for everything.

For weeks there have been no answers on what caused this to happen.

Finally on Friday they are starting to get answers that show the accident could have, and should have, been prevented.

Steve Fickes says for him and his neighbors expenses continue to rise.

“My bids just came back in, and I am out about $126,000 to get my house back," said Fickes.

Weeks later, Fickes says there's still no sign of substantial help from any local government.


"Where are these people, where is our elected officials that are supposed to be taking care of their people?" said Fickes.

For weeks officials from Nampa, Caldwell, and Canyon County have been trying to figure out what caused the disaster and which agency is liable for damages.

Until liability is determined, homeowners have to wait to receive insurance money from the state.

Dave Jones, Director of the Canyon Highway District #4, says they now know exactly what happened.

After weeks of work, Jones says investigators determined the pipe under Midway Road collapsed because it was deteriorating and rusting.

Jones says in his opinion, the entire situation was "absolutely avoidable."

“The culvert predates the existence of this highway district, we found out just recently that the city of Caldwell had it inspected in 2013,” said Jones.

Jones says according to a report about that 2013 inspection, an inspector for Caldwell found significant problems with the pipe. The pipe was even labeled as being in critical condition.

It would have been the highway district's responsibility to fix everything in 2013, but Jones says the highway district has no record of the city of Caldwell ever giving them that information. The first time they were made aware of it was Thursday.

KTVB reached out to Caldwell’s Public Works Department to find out why that report was never shared. As of Friday night, we had not received a response.

“We just found out about it. Again, had we had knowledge of the inspection report in 2013, we would have done something, but we didn't have knowledge of that inspection report, so we didn't do anything,” said Jones.

Now, Jones says he thinks it’s pretty clear that the highway district is liable. Still though, the state insurance agency, Idaho Counties Risk Management, has to decide that for themselves.

Even If they do decide the highway district is at fault, the maximum insurance payout is only $500,000 for all 22 homeowners to split.

Idaho Counties Risk Management says the $500,000 maximum is actually set by a state law. According to the Idaho Tort Claims Act, any claim or lawsuit against a local government agency is capped at that amount.

If that money is paid out, a court will have to decide how it is divided amongst the homeowners, and that will take time.

“It's a very long and tedious process and it isn't going to get wrapped up, you know, in the next 60 days, which is when the winter weather and colder weather is going to start hitting,” said Jones.

Homeowners say they know time is running out.

"We talk about it everyday, what are we going to do about winter," said Fickes.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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