Fremont couple files a tort claim saying county caused their home to flood

FREMONT, Neb. (WOWT)-- The floods in March left damage that’s still being repaired today, but a family near Fremont claims the county should pay those costs not them.

The Wards remember standing just out of danger eight months ago.

“It was nowhere near our home,” said Rick Ward.

Until Dodge County dumped a dirt dike on Highway 30 in front of their home.

“No warning, no warning at all. We just saw the water starting to come up and we saw the dike and we realized we had to get out,” said Ward.

The Dodge County Board chairman Bob Missel tells Six on Your Side the emergency levee came at a critical moment to build up a defense against the flood. Every effort was made to warn folks and he says it’s my belief they were properly notified. But the Ward’s attorney has filed a $400,000 tort claim with Dodge County.

“When they built this dike they didn’t bother to tell the Wards, or anybody else living out in that area, what they were doing, didn’t give them time to try and get their personal property may be moved out,” said Tylor Petitt, Ward’s attorney.

The Ward’s basement filled with water.

“We had to have new ductwork, furnace, water heater,” said Jeanne Ward.

Neighbors like Check Schwanke agree.

“Do right by people out here. They basically shoved that water over on to us,” said Schwanke.

The County Board told them to file with FEMA.

Neighbors worry this isn’t the last time a berm will be built in front of their houses.

This is a $55,000 investment the Wards didn’t expect to make until retirement, about 10 years down the road but they don’t want to be caught off guard again in case there’s a temporary dike on the highway and flood waters come their way.

The Dodge County board chairman says residents just west of Fremont had multiple issues that caused flooding. He believes the emergency levee saved a lot of property. The county has six months to decide on the claim. If denied the Wards can then file suit.