Janesville64.4°

Homeowners hope work keeps Clear Lake out of their basement

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Stacy Vogel
August 25, 2009
— Sharon Schrank smiled like it was Christmas morning.

Her eyes got wide as contractors led her down the stairs.


"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh," she kept saying.


All this for a dry basement.


A month ago, Sharon and her husband, Bob, thought they were going to lose their home on Clear Lake. The lake, spring-fed with no outlet, has been rising for a year and a half. Though the water doesn't surround the Schranks' home, it has been seeping into their basement for months.


They called everyone they could think of looking for a solution or financial assistance. Nothing panned out.


"We had given up hope," Sharon said. "We were going to tear down our home."


They heard from Dry Otter Basement Waterproofing in Madison a couple of days before they planned to make an offer on another house.


The company started work Sunday on a project it says will keep the basement dry for good.


"This company is doing something that nobody else in the area could," Sharon said.


Dry Otter is installing heavy-duty pumps and a drainage system under a layer of clean-washed stoneógravel without the dirtóon the basement floor. It will then put a layer of concrete over the stone, raising the floor about eight inches, LaBansky said.


The pumps will shove the water out of the building before it rises to the basement.


"You can't really stop water from coming in, but you can stop it from coming in where it damages your home," LaBansky said.


By Monday, workers had shoveled a mound of pebbles that started taller than themselves into the basement.


Micah Andras of Grate Products, Dry Otter's supplier, flew in from Westport, Mass., to offer technical support. Problems like the Schranks' are more common on the East Coast, he said.


"I've never been defeated by a basement," he said.


Sharon was amazed to see the dry stone floor. She thought of the hours and hours she and Bob had spent sitting on concrete blocks in the basement, waiting to turn a pump on or off.


Dry Otter expects to finish work Friday. Then, the floor must sit for 10 days before A&J Specialty Services of DeForest gives the whole house an industrial cleaning to remove mold. Other contractors will fix up the plumbing and electricity.


The project isn't cheap. Sharon expects to spend $80,000 to $90,000 on contractors, equipment and replacing destroyed items.


Their flood and homeowners insurance won't cover the work, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down their case for assistance except for two small grants, she said. United Way contributed $3,000.


A little more assistance would be nice, but what's most important is the family keeps the house it has owned for generations, Sharon said.


"It's far less expensive than having to start over," she said.


She hopes her story encourages people never to give up hope when facing disaster.


"I couldn't be more excited than I am right now," she said.



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