A group of people staying at the Alpha Project Bridge Shelter on Newton Ave. want to take legal action against the city of San Diego after they lost their personal belongings during a rainstorm last December.
Demetrius Brunner, 65, is one of 23 people who filed a claim against the city, but those claims were recently rejected.
On December 6, floodwaters overwhelmed the shelter. At one point several portable bathrooms tipped over and were floating in the water.
“It was cold and dirty and nasty,” Brunner said.
Brunner says he’s grateful the city immediately bussed residents to an emergency shelter at the SDCCU Stadium in Mission Valley, but they were forced to leave all of their personal belongings at the shelter. When they returned, Brunner says everything was thrown out.
“They say it was contaminated. Hazmat came in and they threw everything away. They said it was contaminated by sewage, contaminated water,” said Brunner.
A city spokesperson would not comment on the claims because there could be future legal action.
“There was a significant rainstorm in the City that evening which severely impacted areas in Downtown San Diego. All Claims filed with the City, including claims related to damage as a result of those rainstorms, are evaluated on a case by case basis. However, the City does not comment on liability determinations as there is a potential for future litigation,” city spokesperson Tim Graham said.
Brunner agrees the rainstorm was significant, but not significant enough to cause such bad flooding. He wonders if there was a problem with the storm drains.
“I know it wasn’t a normal flood. It shouldn’t have flooded like that. People have been here 30-40 years in this area and it never flooded like that,” said Brunner.
He says he lost shoes, clothes, a laptop computer, and a wedding picture of his mother and father. He estimates the total cost of his personal possessions at $2,500. He says the group of people who filed claims are looking for an attorney to help them file a lawsuit.
“I know the city probably had money to compensate. We should be compensated if it was drainage or a sewage problem to get our clothes back, some of our stuff back that we lost,” said Brunner.