Couple ordered to vacate home

WILLMAR -- Warren and Jan Lee Jorgenson have been ordered by the city to vacate their home of 19 years after water from an intersection, which was flooded by rain Monday night, crossed their yard and pushed in part of the foundation.

WILLMAR -- Warren and Jan Lee Jorgenson have been ordered by the city to vacate their home of 19 years after water from an intersection, which was flooded by rain Monday night, crossed their yard and pushed in part of the foundation.

After inspecting the house on Tuesday, City Building Official Randy Kardell determined that several areas of the foundation of the house at 1000 Kandi-yohi Ave. S.W. have structural damage.

"With the structural failure of the foundation walls, this structure must be vacated until proper foundation corrections are completed,'' wrote Kardell Thursday in a letter to the Jorgensons.

"There is a good possibility that the remaining portion of the west wall may also fail.''

The west wall was damaged by excessive water from the low-lying intersection at 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest. The intersection floods during heavy rain, and flooded again when up to 4 inches of rain fell between 11:30 p.m. Monday and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.


The Jorgensons have had water in their basement from the intersection in the past, but nothing like what happened this week when part of the foundation collapsed, due to heavy rain.

Kardell and building inspector Tom Rosemier met with the Jorgensons at noon Tuesday to determine the amount of the damage.

Kardell said inspection of the interior foundation indicated that the northern half of the west wall received significant structural damage. He said the wall may fail at any time.

The west foundation is a major bearing wall, which supports a floor and roof load. The wall may also be supporting the easterly edge of the concrete garage floor, said Kardell.

He cited the 2007 state building code, which the city has adopted, that allows a building official to order any building to be vacated if continued use is dangerous to the life, health or safety of the occupants.

Kardell is giving the Jorgensons time to remove personal possessions, but he said removal should be completed as soon as possible.

Jorgenson said his insurance company won't cover the damage.

"They said that's water outside the building. That's the city of Willmar's problem, so we don't have coverage,'' he said.


The couple had a moving company on Friday place the upstairs possessions in storage.

Jorgenson said Kardell has been helpful.

"Randy said basically we couldn't stay in the house any longer,'' said Jorgenson. "He's allowing us to come in and get stuff out. I don't know when he's going to finally close the doors up on us.''

Jorgenson doesn't know what they'll do but said he won't rebuild the house.

"Absolutely not,'' he said. "If we tried to fix the place up, the problem's still out there in the intersection. I don't know what's going to happen.''

The water that burst the foundation nearly filled the basement. The mud that remains covers everything and left some items buried knee-deep.

Family members wear filter masks and rubber gloves while working downstairs.

"Our big concern is to try to get the stuff out of the basement before the mold starts creeping upstairs here,'' Jorgenson said Friday afternoon.


The couple has been staying overnight at their children's homes. On Thursday night and Friday night, the couple stayed at Country Inn and Suites, courtesy of a relative, where the hot tub helps relieve sore muscles.

The Jorgensons, with help from their four children -- "I don't know what I'd do without 'em'' -- are placing damaged household and personal items in the garage and on the driveway.

They hung a yellow warning tape across the front yard -- mainly to keep people away who think the Jorgensons are having a garage sale.

One of the items they brought up was a freezer. It apparently had floated to the ceiling and the lid never opened. After they washed it off and plugged it in, it still ran.

Jorgenson and his wife are firefighters and state fire instructors.

"We're used to being on the other side helping people that have these problems,'' Jorgenson said.

Despite their situation, Jorgenson keeps a sense of humor. Two stuffed animals sitting on a garbage container are wearing firefighter hats.

"I think there's even a training manual on emergency preparedness there. Maybe there's some city folks that can make use of that,'' he chuckled. "You got to have a sense of humor; otherwise you go nuts worrying about everything.''


The City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee will discuss the flooding problem Tuesday afternoon.

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