Boston's 'mini-Katrina' demands a government response

October 7, 2008

During heavy rains in June and July of this year, homes in Dorchester and South Boston were flooded with storm water and raw sewage that filled the streets, damaged parked cars and flowed into basements. Possessions were lost and heating systems ruined. Those homes had not been flooded during previous rainstorms and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) refused to provide reimbursement for losses.

Boston City Councilors Stephen Murphy and Charles Yancey with storm victims

On September 23, the Boston City Council Committee on Public Safety, at the request of City Councilor Charles Yancey, held a hearing about the flooding. The residents testified about the floods and their losses of property. Some do not have money to replace their wrecked heating systems and are facing a frigid winter. Councilors Yancey and Murphy closely questioned representatives of the BWSC and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Neither agency accepted any responsibility or agreed to assist the residents whose possessions were destroyed.

ACE Legal Counsel Eugene Benson testified at the invitation of the Committee. He recommended that the City provide immediate relief and fair compensation to the families who were flooded, complete a speedy and accurate investigation of the causes of the flooding, and correct the problems that were found. He also recommended that a government entity needed to accept responsibility and communicate with the flood victims.

City Councilor Yancey said the two storms were "mini-Katrinas for some Boston families" and the city needs to come up with compassionate solutions.

It is unacceptable that no city entity will accept responsibility or admit that there is a problem to be corrected. No Boston resident whose home is flooded by storm drain or sewer overflows should be left uncompensated for their damages or live in fear that another heavy rain might flood his or her home again. If you would like to help, contact the BWSC and MWRA and let them know this behavior is inexcusable.