See more of the story

Friends have stepped in to help a Fridley woman recover after a city water main broke last month and sent thousands of gallons of water gushing into her basement.

"It was like a geyser hitting the ceiling," said homeowner Julie McNamara. "The pressure blew the washtubs off the wall. It came through the bathroom sink and boiling out of the toilet."

Water main breaks, basement floods in Fridley Water poured into Julie McNamara's basement after a city of Fridley water main broke outside her home April 9. Video (00:22)

Before city crews turned off the water, McNamara said her entire basement was flooded with 2 feet of water. Priceless possessions including wedding and children's pictures gone. A full bedroom set damaged. Shoes, boots and other storage items destroyed. The bathroom had to be completely gutted, and big-ticket items such as her furnace, water heater and washer and dryer had to be replaced.

Now more than a month after the ordeal, McNamara remains caught in the middle of an insurance battle between the city and the contractor Fridley hired to construct the water main over who, if anybody, should pay.

McNamara was having her sewer line cleaned on April 9 when part of a city water main installed about nine years ago broke off, setting off the catastrophe. McNamara did not have flood insurance. She did have water protection as part of her homeowner's insurance, but it only covered up to $5,000, she said.

In the weeks that followed, McNamara got more bad news. The League of Minnesota Cities sent her a letter stating that Fridley was not negligent or responsible for the break, and that she could seek damages from Northwest Asphalt, the contractor that put in the water main.

She's called her insurance company, the city's insurance company, the contractor's insurance company and attorneys, but so far feels she's been left holding the bag.

Jim Kosluchar, Fridley's public works director, said he is sympathetic to McNamara's cause and that the city has tried to be helpful. Crews responded to the leak quickly to limit the damage and the city paid for 30 days of storage fees, he said. As far as a claim, the city is still waiting, too.

"It is in the hands of our insurance carrier," Kosluchar said. "Insurance takes time. We can't just resolve this ourselves."

In the meantime as McNamara awaits resolution, friends and neighbors have started an online fundraising effort to help McNamara and her family. They also have planned a spaghetti dinner and raffle on June 15 at the 2218 Alano Club.

Scott Holeman with the Insurance Information Institute said McNamara's plight underscores the necessity of reviewing homeowners insurance policies annually, and he suggested that homeowners consider adding protections to cover service lines and flood insurance.

"You don't have to live in a flood plain to get that," Holeman said. "Anything you can do to mitigate your risk and stay ahead will save you money in the long run."