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Soldier frustrated by mudslide from Waynesville school property
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Nov. 22, 2008) — Waynesville City Council members approved an agreement with the Waynesville R-VI School District Thursday night to fix water runoff problems in a residential subdivision being constructed by building trades students at Waynesville Technical Academy, but the fix comes too late to help one military family whose yard suffered a mudslide earlier this year.

Matt Weatherall, a city intern with a degree in public administration whose fiancé is attending chemical officer classes at the Army’s CBRN school at Fort Leonard Wood, explained to city councilmen how the water diversion plan would work. The plan has been designed by local engineer John Mackey to handle 25-year severe storms and will be paid for by the school district, Weatherall said. The school will also cover any problems arising from the swail for one year after it’s built, he said.

A more detailed presentation was given earlier to members of the Waynesville Road and Grounds Committee, said Councilwoman Adele Nickels, who chairs the committee.

“He did a very good job of informing us about this; what we are going to do is build a swail, which is basically a ditch that can carry the stormwater to a detention pond,” Nickels said.

However, Councilman Mike France wanted more details at the city council meeting.

“Hopefully this will address the problems we’ve had there, but what do we do about the problem we’ve already had there?” France said. “One of (the residents), his pool was inundated with that red clay mud from where they dug the hole up by that new school house up on Tiger Loop. We’re not addressing how we take care of those people’s damage that was done because this was not already in place.”

City Administrator Bruce Harrill suggested the damage should be turned into insurance agents for coverage, but France wanted a better answer, pointing to Sgt. 1st Class Wilson Reyes and his wife Melanie Reyes in the audience.

“Is your wife capable of doing that? This gentleman is leaving for Afghanistan tomorrow,” France said. “He’s going back to defend us.”

Wilson Reyes said his insurance company had told him the property damage won’t be covered and asked if the city’s insurance will help. Harrill said the damage may have been generated by activities on school property, not city property.

Whoever is responsible, Reyes said, someone needs to help.

“All of that dirt that they pushed back and built up to build a foundation on top of, when we had a hard rainstorm, the mudslide came down into my yard and all of that mud covered my back yard,” Reyes said.

The result was that his yard was covered to a depth of one to four inches, wrecking his landscaping and washing mud up against his house. If he hadn’t had a pool installed in the summer of 2006, the mud would have washed into his house, Reyes said. The problem was caused by failure to properly compact the dirt, he claimed.

France compared the damage to a waterfall.

“The school had put in a dam to keep it from coming down. It flowed over that dam; they put in another dam,” France said. “Remember those heavy rains? The mud came over that second dam and continued to inundate their properties with that mud.”

“While I appreciate the problem, the city doesn’t own that property, we didn’t do the construction up above; I don’t know how the city could be responsible in any way,” said Councilwoman Twyla Cordry. “But I would think that the school or the developer who built it or the insurance somewhere off of the school would be responsible for damages.”

Harrill said he wasn’t aware of the details of the damage and said it may be possible for city officials to assist in finding topsoil or making drainage adjustments to protect the Reyes’ property.

Councilman Alan Clark asked if city officials could make extra efforts to assist.

“Since this gentleman is going to be gone overseas, is it possible that we can kind of help with his wife trying to facilitate this with the school district?” Clark said.

Reyes said he wanted whatever help is possible.

“This was the last thing I wanted to do on my time home after being gone for months,” Reyes said. “I have talked to the school and their answer was they came out with some kids and some shovels and tried to clean up the mud. They did what they can do, I understand they are limited, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel I had the support I needed, but I appreciate the support I’m getting here tonight.”

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