Ken Jackson was getting ready to watch Thursday's Seahawks game when water started seeping into his basement apartment in Seattle's Madison...

Share story

Ken Jackson was getting ready to watch Thursday’s Seahawks game when water started seeping into his basement apartment in Seattle’s Madison Valley.

Jackson ran to tell his landlord. By the time he got back, shoes were floating around in a waist-high mix of stormwater and sewage. Jackson grabbed his wallet, a few other valuables and fled.

Jackson, a special-education instructor at Stevens Elementary School, and his wife have been left homeless by the storm, and most of their possessions are ruined. On Monday, water was still pooled in their kitchen drawers and mud caked their silverware.

Many neighbors in this four-block area roughly bounded by East Harrison and East John streets and 30th and 31st avenues east had dealt with damaging floods before.

Desmond Modica, who lives in the basement of his grandmother’s house, said he lost “absolutely everything” as he stared Monday at a pile of damaged appliances, furniture, clothes and luggage stacked in his backyard.

“It’s just so disheartening,” said his next-door neighbor, Melody Walker, whose basement bedroom was also submerged.

A few blocks to the north, flowers, cards and rosary beads were laid out on the front steps of Kate Fleming’s house. She died Thursday after being trapped in her flooded basement.

According to the city, 25 to 30 homes in Madison Valley were flooded with sewage and stormwater. The city paid for 35 people to stay in hotels and hired two companies to clean up the water. It also sent inspectors and adjusters to look at the damage.

“At this point we don’t know whether there will be claims or what our liability is in it,” said Andy Ryan, Seattle Public Utilities spokesman.

In 2004, Jackson’s place was flooded, and he received $20,000 from the city of Seattle, which paid $1.2 million in damage claims to 32 property owners.

The main sewer line in this neighborhood is not large enough to drain stormwater and sewage, Ryan said.

The city also spent $1.8 million to buy five properties at 30th Avenue East and East John Street, then $3.6 million more to build a million-gallon detention pond there and a stormwater vault at 30th Avenue East and East Thomas Street. The vault is still under construction.

Jackson and several of his neighbors wonder why the city hasn’t fully fixed the drainage problem.

“We were incredibly dismayed this happened again,” Ryan said. “We’ve been working very hard with the neighborhood to come up with a short-term fix that would suffice until we got our long-term solution into place.”

The city has been researching a permanent fix that could cost up to $30 million. Options include a new storage system and a new drain.

The city also plans to hire a consultant this week to investigate the flooding that killed Fleming, though her house is a few blocks from the area the city has been working to fix.

Meanwhile, Madison Valley residents wonder if they’ll be hit again before the city comes up with a solution.

“What happens when the next big rain comes? I’m getting too old to deal with this,” said Walker, 59.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or byoung@seattletimes.com

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com