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Leesburg Residents Displaced After Sprinkler Systems Burst

© Leesburg Today - 07/28/2015

Residents blame water system maintenance work as the cause of bursting fire sprinkler systems that flooded their The Lakes at Red Rock townhouses Wednesday, but the Town of Leesburg says it will take several weeks to know for sure.

If the town is found to be at fault, the insurance coverage is expected to pay for damage to the homes.

But in the meantime, building owners like Sandeep Taxali are on the hook for repairs because water pipe bursts are not covered in his homeowners insurance.

Taxali said town crews were repairing a water line on Edwards Ferry Road when the sprinkler systems in six homes exploded. Loudoun County Code requires townhouses of four stories or more to be equipped with sprinkler systems.

Five of the families were displaced because of the water damage. Repairs are expected to take four to six months to complete, residents said.

""We pretty much lost everything,"" resident Laura Morar said, who has a 2-year-old daughter and another baby due next month. ""My daughter keeps asking to go home, but how do you explain that to a 2-year-old?""

Leesburg Research and Communications Manager Betsy Fields said Monday the investigation was expected be completed by the end of August. She said the town has reached out to the homeowners with a letter and has given them a contact with its insurance carrier. She also placed calls to affected residents Monday afternoon.

""We understand this has been a very disturbing and interruptive incident,"" Fields said.

Mill Race Terrace resident Karen Volschenk said she was sitting at home when something ""sounded like it dropped from the sky and landed on the roof.""

Her husband came in through the garage to see water cascading on the ground floor from the pipes above and drywall was falling off. That was the scene at five other homes, but at an even more severe degree.

Tammy Hubbard came home from work to see water filling up three levels of her home, and the kitchen's drywall caving in. Eventually most of the ceiling collapsed.

She and her 13-year-old daughter will be moving to a new home instead of spending the next six months in hotels and friends' homes. She has already spent $5,500 on reserving a new house, and that's not including other costs for moving, staying in a hotel, and eating out more often.

""Right now it's survival mode and getting everything worked out,"" Hubbard said.

She, and other residents, said they were disappointed there hasn't been more communication from the town.

""We haven't had anyone from the town to come out to ask us how we're doing,"" Morar, who works for the county's Parks and Recreation Department, said before receiving a call from Fields Monday. ""It's been kind of like fend for yourself.""

Taxali said additional trash has piled up at the homes, and he also wants town employees and leaders to be more communicative with the residents.

""If it was a private company that contributed to something that led to residents not living there anymore, that company would have feet on the ground to work with you to remove trash and provide counseling,"" Taxali said. ""People feel isolated.""

Morar and her family plan to return to their home after the six-month repair, but will move into a rental home as soon as they can. ""I'm hoping that this baby stays inside for a few more weeks until we get situated,"" she said.

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