Clogged drain, failed pump flood condos
Heavy rains spilled into a Harbour Pointe condominium complex early last Wednesday due to a failed pump and a stopped-up drain.
Overnight rains flooded the Hamptons at Harbour Pointe condos on the 5300 block of Harbour Pointe Blvd. in Mukilteo around 3 a.m. on Oct. 31 with about 5-6 inches of standing water, said Mukilteo Assistant Fire Chief Brian McMahan.
A storm drain about 20 feet from the complex was clogged with tree leaves and twigs, which caused a nearby retention pond to fill with several feet of water and spill into at least four condo units.
Management apparently knew about the water backup, because crews had set up a sump pump near the drain, but the pump appeared to have failed, McMahan said.
A maintenance worker reported later that morning that someone had cut the wires to the pump intentionally because of the noise it was making, said Cheol Kang, spokesperson for the Mukilteo Police Department
The police are investigating whether the wires were cut before or after water flooded, Kang said.
“According to the maintenance worker, the pump had been shut off before because of the noise,” he said. “We’re not sure if that’s why the wires were cut this time.
“We’re trying to piece this together.”
A resident reported to police at 3:40 a.m. that her ground floor unit was flooding and that there were several inches of water on the floor.
Firefighters arrived around 3:45 a.m. and spent 3 1/2 hours pumping most of the water out of the units and the pond. They also cleared the drain of debris.
“When the fire department got there, there was 6 inches of water in the pump and it wasn’t working,” McMahan said.
“The pump shut off and the water continued to rise and rise. It was raining pretty hard after midnight.”
Georgina Noriega, a single mother who rents one of the ground-floor condos, said she woke up around 2:30 a.m. and stepped out of bed onto wet carpeting.
“My boyfriend was here, and he works at 3 a.m., so I woke up to make him some coffee,” she said.
“I almost had a heart attack because of all the water.”
Noriega said she doesn’t have the money to put her stuff into storage, so a maintenance worker is letting her keep some of it in the Hamptons’ clubhouse. Whatever doesn’t fit, she said she’ll have to throw away.
“In the meantime, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “Basically, we’re out on the streets.”
She and her son had until noon Saturday to be out of their home. On Friday afternoon, they were busy moving boxes and furniture into the clubhouse. Most of it – their TV, computer, couches and beds – had been damaged.
Each of the damaged units had a note from “The Hamptons Management” taped to the door the next day. The note said that someone had cut a wire to the pump, causing the flooding.
The note also said a pump would be running again that night to bring down the water level in the pond. It apologized for the noise.
“I’m mad that somebody cut the wire,” Noriega said. “We don’t know who it was.”
Firefighters were on scene until about 7:15 a.m. It took them about two hours just to rake the debris away from the drain.
“One of them was up to their waist in the water, fishing around to clear the drain and unclog some of the pressure,” McMahan said. “It was like a needle in a haystack, looking for that drain.”
“Apparently, it had been an ongoing problem, because they already had a pump that had been running the night before,” he added.
At least four of the ground floor units were damaged in the flood, McMahan said. One of the damaged condos was vacant, he said.
Damage is estimated at $500,000, according to the maintenance worker.
Noriega said it will be at least a month before she and other residents will be able to move back in.
Crews were ripping out wet carpeting and cutting out soaked drywall in each of the units on Friday. They had fans going to dry out the units.
If you see a clogged drain, McMahan encourages you to clear the debris to prevent water back up.
“All it takes is five or six properly placed leaves,” he said, “and all that water pressure to stop up a drain.”