September 15, 2014

Medina
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Families struggle to deal with damage from last week’s storms

Vic Petras fills up a dumpster with drywall and other water-soaked housing materials with help from his daughter, Jen Petras, and family friend Melissa Nemec. Petras has been cleaning out soaked drywall since floodwaters last week damaged his Granger Road home in Medina Township. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

Vic Petras fills up a dumpster with drywall and other water-soaked housing materials with help from his daughter, Jen Petras, and family friend Melissa Nemec. Petras has been cleaning out soaked drywall since floodwaters last week damaged his Granger Road home in Medina Township. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

More than a week after flash floodwaters tore through their Medina Township homes, residents on Granger Road are still trying to salvage what they can.

Those without insurance are turning to their neighbors and the community for help.

Those who are insured are finding unexpected costs.

Vic Petras fills up a wagon with drywall and insulation ripped out of the lower level of his home on Granger Road in Medina Township. Petras has been cleaning out soaked drywall since floodwaters damaged his home last week. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

Vic Petras fills up a wagon with drywall and insulation ripped out of the lower level of his home on Granger Road in Medina Township. Petras has been cleaning out soaked drywall since floodwaters damaged his home last week. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

Some homeowners likely will be displaced as they gut, repair and replace nearly everything the floodwaters touched.

Granger Road residents were shocked when flash floodwaters came into their living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms during the early morning hours of May 13. Longtime residents said the water has never gotten that high before.

“I heard water gurgling around and it was backing up in the drains and in the (floor heating) registers,” said David Stupar, of 4044 Granger Road.

His home on Granger Road is just north of where the north and west branches of the Rocky River merge.

At least six homes along Granger Road saw extensive first-floor damage, with floodwaters reaching more than a foot deep.

Stupar, who built his home 36 years ago, said the water has never before entered the home he shares with his wife, Mary.

“I woke up my wife, got the cat and the dog, and we drove across the street,” he said.
While his wife and the pets waited in a parking lot of a Weymouth Road business, Stupar went back to get the other cat and drive another car to higher ground.

“When we left the house the water was around my ankles. When I went back a few minutes later it, was around my knees,” he said.

The family is living in a nearby apartment with their pets.

“Right now, we’ve got a six-month lease,” he said. He’s not sure how long it will take to clean, fix and replace the items damaged in their home.

For the last week, the couple has been working to clean out the contents of their home and to salvage items.

Most appliances, furniture and rugs were ruined by the muddy water.

They took a lunch break outside under a tent set up in their driveway Tuesday.

The couple has flood insurance. They said they expect it to cover the home repairs and help replace some items.

But they learned the policy doesn’t pay for everything.

“Flood insurance doesn’t cover our housing expenses the way other insurance would,” Stupar said. “It’s going to replace some personal property, but there is a limit, and we don’t know how that’s going to go.”

The couple isn’t expecting much from the state in the way of assistance, and said they feel as though nobody has noticed the struggle they and their neighbors are facing.

“I haven’t seen one trustee out here to talk to us or look at the damage,” Mary Stupar said. “It’s disappointing.”

Next door at 4056 Granger Road, Vic Petras is struggling with gutting and repairing his damaged home.

Petras was without flood insurance when the storm hit last week because of red-tape delays.

In January, Petras tried to renew his flood insurance rider through his insurance company. But the company told him the FEMA rules had changed, and his property needed to be surveyed before it could issue him coverage.

In February, the property was surveyed, but FEMA wasn’t satisfied with the photographs taken by the surveyor. Petras took his own photos but was told they weren’t sufficient. A photographer from the insurance company came out to take more.

The process wasn’t finished until April 29, when Petras was told his annual premium would be $404.

“I thought, great, because I had been paying about $1,000 a year before,” Petras said.

Petras said he paid the bill and set off on a vacation to Wyoming and the Dakotas with his daughter, Sara, who was on a break from college.

On May 8 — four days before the storm hit — Petras got a call from his insurance company informing him that his payment arrived a day late and didn’t qualify for immediate coverage. His flood insurance coverage would begin on May 29.

Petras was frustrated.

“I felt like it was so late because they dragged out the process with the pictures,” he said. “They’re not going to cover anything — nothing.”

Petras was two days into his vacation and tried to enjoy the time with his daughter.

“I’ve never taken a long vacation,” he said. “This was going to be three weeks out west. It was the longest vacation I’ve ever planned.”

On May 13, the morning after the flood, Petras’ other daughter, Jen, stopped by her father’s home to assess the damage and frantically called her father and sister back home from Wyoming.

The pair headed home, while his daughter began surveying the damage.

“It was just so overwhelming. You don’t know where to start,” Jen Petras said.

The family had lived in the home for 30 years, and it was the home his daughters grew up in. Sara still had many of her belongings stored at home.

When Petras and his daughter got home, they rented a dumpster to start the clean-up process.

Petras now is living in the second floor office of an outbuilding on his property. The office, where Petras runs his own information technology business, was not damaged by floodwaters.

“Thankfully, all of my office stuff was on the second floor,” he said.

Petras estimates he has about $40,000 in damage. He lost all his appliances, furnace, washer and dryer, and most of his furniture and carpeting. Drywall has to be torn out and most of his oak doors will have to be replaced. While the oak doors still look beautiful, the bottoms of the doors have warped and no longer fit into the door jambs.

Overwhelmed, Vic erected a plywood sign on his front yard stating, “Need help, no insurace.”

Petras spelled “insurance” wrong on the sign, but said he wrote it early in the morning after a lot of stress. The plywood he had planned to write his sign on was stolen from the property.

Other property was also lost to thieves. He said people often stop by the dumpster in their driveway looking for scrap metal.

On a positive note, other passers-by have stopped by to offer help and service. Neighbors have offered meals, and others have volunteered their time tearing out damaged wood and drywall.

Petras said he’s thankful for any support, including donations of time, items or money.

On Tuesday, a man stopped by with an offer of a few men to help with the work. He asked what needed to be done.

“I need help hauling the debris to the dumpster, then I need help hauling it away to the dump,” Petras said. “I’ve already depleted most of my funds.”

One bright spot was that his car damaged in the garage was immediately replaced.

Petras had switched his car insurance to Geico just a few days before leaving on vacation.

“I was with them for only eight days, and they came out looked at my car and replaced it immediately,” he said. “That’s the only thing that’s worked out for me here.”

On Tuesday, he and his daughters ate fast-food salads and sandwiches in the garage during a break from cleaning.

The high-water mark sits about 20 inches up on the garage walls.

A chalkboard on the wall says “home sweet home” in Sara’s decorative cursive handwriting embellished with a heart and a flower. She said she penned the note to her dad on the board months before the flood came.

“I do still want to live here,” Petras said. “Because this is my home. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorengenson.