Lebanon homeowner fights for a fix after water main break

Amy Houston experienced a water main break that dumped gallons of water onto her house and property. (WTHR)
Water Main Break in Lebanon Damages Home
Home damaged after water main break

LEBANON, Ind. (WTHR) — A Lebanon homeowner contacted 13 Investigates and is fighting for a fix, after a city water main broke and caused damage to her home.

Even though that water main originated on city property, the homeowner is being told she's the one responsible for expensive repairs.

In the middle of the night on July 4, Amy Houston woke up to a boom.

A surging city water main broke in the middle of Syracuse Street, drenching and damaging her Lebanon home.

Amy Houston (WTHR)

"I thought it was a tornado at first, it was so loud," Houston said. "Just aiming straight at my house, at the bay window. The water and the rocks. The pressure was so much."

Thousands of gallons of water aimed right at her house for an hour and a half, damaging the roof, breaking out windows and totaling two cars.

"There's glass all inside. It ruined some of my stuff in there," Houston said, pointing at her vehicle that after the damage, doesn't even run. "The water actually went all the way up to the seats in the front and the back."

But even worse, this single mom is being told she's on the hook to pay for a fix.

Her homeowners insurance denied the claim since it wasn't a natural disaster.

And the insurance company for the city of Lebanon just denied the claim too, saying the city has "discretionary immunity" — no negligence and no liability to pay damages.

"I'm beyond frustrated," Houston said. "We can't afford to repair this, you know. Not everybody has an extra $20,000 in their back pocket. And you expect to be taken care of because I mean it's the city. It was in the center of the street."

Plus, those decades old pipes have burst before, this summer in fact.

Neighbors took a picture of water in the street in June, after they say another section of water main broke nearby.

Amy said city leaders have been kind and helpful over the past few weeks.

And the Lebanon Utilities director tells 13 Investigates this isn't over yet, that the city is still investigating and talking with the insurance company.

But for now, Amy feels stuck with damage she didn't cause.

"I'm just... I'm tired of crying," she said through tears.

Amy now plans to get an attorney involved in hopes of getting that damage paid for.