On the evening of August 28, 2016, central Hamilton County received nearly 4.5 inches of rain in a very short time. The storm sewer system wasn't built to handle that kind of rainfall and water and sewage backed up into some homes and businesses in Norwood, St. Bernard, and several Cincinnati neighborhoods.
The Metropolitan Sewer District has a program to reimburse property owners for storm-related sewer backups but the claims process changed as some customers were filing. Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune says people affected by flooding were first told to file claims for property damage, and then file claims for personal property damage.
"People followed that process only to be told mid-stream, that no, in fact, they weren't going to do that. That everything was going to be handled in one fell swoop."
That meant MSD would accept and process property damage and personal property claims at the same time.
Portune says he wants to look at MSD's policies. MSD Director Gerald Checco says he welcomes that discussion.
"We are constantly re-evaluating everything we do and learning from cases," Checco says.
Adjusters focused first on customers who'd lost power or had water heaters or HVAC systems damaged. He says they then turned to other property damage and personal property claims but found splitting them up was inefficient. Adjusters were tripling their workload, Checco says, and slowing down the claims process for everyone.
"We are certainly moving as fast as we can for a very complicated system," Checco says.
Portune said he had heard from a business that was still closed about 7-and-a-half months after the flooding.
Checco said he couldn't address specific businesses, "but we have several businesses that required for us to do additional analysis because we were not sure that the flooding had to do with the sewer system."
Checco says MSD has processed 809 of the more than 1,200 claims. Because the SBU program has a two-year window to file claims, some are still coming in. So far, MSD has paid out $4.6 million for damage claims.