'This was really Mother Nature kicking all of our butts'

'This was really Mother Nature kicking all of our butts'

CHAMPAIGN — With more than 5 inches of rain so far this week, plumbers have been busy.

"Overwhelming would be an understatement," said Lucas Schoonover, operation supervisor for Schoonover Sewer Service. "We've had about three times the call volume of a normal day. In a normal day, we may get between 35 and 40 calls. In the last two days, we've had over 200 calls."

And most of those calls have been for flooded basements.

Schoonover blamed both aging infrastructure and problems with individual drainage systems, but mostly the excessive rain.

"This was really Mother Nature kicking all of our butts," he said.

At the Do It Best hardware store in Champaign, store manager Scott Clark said plumbing supplies are selling well.

"Sump pumps, check valves, piping, hydraulic cement for cracks and what not, various rubberization and caulking products, stuff like that," he said. "We take care of a lot of the contractors and apartment owners. That's about 70 percent of our business."

Do It Best sold about 22 sump pumps Wednesday, Clark said, much more than usual.

Local insurance companies have also been busy.

"I think probably five or six of us work here, and I've personally taken about four calls," Brandon Sorenson, a State Farm team member, said Wednesday morning. "The others have taken a few as well."

Because home insurance doesn't typically cover sewer backups unless customers pay more to add it, not all of the calls have been positive.

"Two households I've talked to this morning, I had to tell them they're not covered," Sorenson said.

If a basement is flooding, Sorenson said people should first try to figure out what's causing the problem and save their more expensive items that could be damaged.

"Then grab your phone and call your insurance company," he said.

He also encouraged people to take pictures and document any damage.

To prevent flooded basements in the first place, Schoonover encouraged homeowners to buy a sump pump and clear their gutters.

"The simplest thing, besides installation of a sump pump, is make sure your gutters are clean," he said.

He also said downspouts should discharge water at least 5 to 8 feet away from the home so the water can drain away from the home.

But sometimes that's not enough.



"In this situation, sometimes it's just Mother Nature overpowering the pipe."

trying to get rid of the water," Schoonover said.

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