The Ottumwa Courier

April 19, 2013

Decision upcoming in lawsuit against city

By CHELSEA DAVIS Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — While Thursday’s flooding had homeowners watching rain gauges with concern, a lawsuit against the city after the 2010 floods will come to a conclusion next week.

David Garr Jr. and his wife, Julie, bought their home, 3105 N. Court Road, in 1997. The property is “located immediately southeast of the Ottumwa Municipal Golf Course, which has a natural drainage creek locally known as Little Cedar Creek that runs through the golf course and runs adjacent to the property,” according to court documents filed by the Garrs in October 2011.

The Garrs stated that from 1998 to 2005 they experienced no flooding issues from the creek until the city approved the Quail Creek Addition and its drainage, which is located at Pinehurst Circle, upstream from the Garr home. “Quail Creek Addition has added substantial storm water drainage to the creek,” according to court documents.

From 2004 to 2006, the city annexed properties upstream from the Garr property and approved the properties’ storm water drainage plans, which resulted in more water rushing into the watershed during rainfall.

In 2006, the golf course underwent water drainage modifications, “which substantially increased storm water flow into the creek during rain events.”

From 2006 to 2008, the Garrs noticed a substantial increase in water flow in the creek. The Garrs stated that they contacted the city several times asking for an investigation of the increased water flow, as well as an effort be made to take preventive measures so their home wouldn’t be flooded.

“Ottumwa refused to take any preventative or corrective measures to protect the Garrs from eventual flooding,” according to court documents. “In fact, Ottumwa took extraordinary measures in ignoring the Garrs’ pleas.”

During the 2008 floods, the Garr property flooded, filling the basement with water. Minor basement flooding continued the next year and during the floods from April to August 2010, the property had 1 foot or more of storm water flooding around 25 times, which came to a head on Aug. 20, 2010, when 4 feet of water flooded the home’s main floor. There was also approximately 25-30 feet of water surrounding the property.

“Despite numerous requests from the Garrs to the ... city engineer, city councilpersons and various other city officials, Ottumwa has not taken any storm water detention measures to protect the Garrs from extensive storm water flooding,” according to court documents.

Today, the Garrs allege they are not able to sell their home “due to the constant flooding.”

The jury in the trial reached a verdict on April 5.

“Although the verdict involves several findings by the jury, it appears to the court to be logically consistent with the jury’s apparent intent to award judgment in favor of David P. Garr and Julie A. Garr against the city of Ottumwa, Iowa, in the amount of $84,400,” according to an order filed on April 8.

The hearing to make a decision concerning the entry of judgment and ruling on any post-trial motions will be held at 2 p.m. Monday.