Ever since March 15, Maureen Flanagan's Berkley Street home has been scaring her and making her sick. It was on that night, in the midst of the three-day storm that flooded the region and lifted the Charles River to a record level, that her dog woke her just in time for her to hear a loud splitting sound.
Ever since March 15, Maureen Flanagan's Berkley Street home has been scaring her and making her sick.
It was on that night, in the midst of the three-day storm that flooded the region and lifted the Charles River to a record level, that her dog woke her just in time for her to hear a loud splitting sound.
"I looked up and everything just started cracking," said Flanagan.
Cracks opened in ceilings and archways. Door frames fell off the walls, she said.
Flanagan went downstairs and discovered her cement basement had begun to crack. One of her kids stumbled, and she realized her home had tilted.
In minutes, Flanagan's home had become what she describes as a carnival "fun house."
Alarmed, Flanagan called the Fire Department and was ordered out of the house, she said.
"I thought it was going to fall down or collapse," she said.
The 50-year-old house Flanagan has lived in for 18 years had slid off its foundation by a foot, causing her basement to flood, she said.
She said she does not know why this happened.
Still hearing splitting noises in the walls as of Monday, Flanagan said, "It is very unsettling."
"It is like a poltergeist is in here," she said.
Mold is starting to grow on the basement walls. "If you stay too long in the house, you get a wicked sore throat," said Flanagan, who works for a Waltham orthodontist.
Flanagan's insurance company, Travelers Insurance, denied her claims, she said. Flanagan can't afford to fix the damage.
Since her house was not situated in a flood zone, Flanagan said she did not think to insure it for flood and water damage. The nearest large body of water body is the Cambridge Reservoir more than a mile away.
"It was a huge surprise this happened to my house," said Flanagan. No other house on the street was damaged.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency told Flanagan she could take out a loan, but Flanagan said she can't afford that option.
Still without heat, Flanagan, a single mom of three boys, ages 13, 17 and 21, plans to stay at her parents' home in Braintree until she figures out what to do.
Mayor Jeannette McCarthy put Flanagan's family up in a hotel until Monday morning.
Precious items such as antiques and baby pictures were lost when the basement flooded, said Flanagan, and the washer and dryer are ruined.
Flanagan said water continues to flow into the basement. At one point, the basement held 2 feet of water.
Randy LeBlanc, a heating contractor, helped to install a sump pump that was still pumping water from the basement Monday.
The front yard is "mush," Flanagan said.
It is still up in the air whether the house will be condemned, Flanagan said. "I think they are trying really hard not to condemn it."
Since her divorce six years ago, "It's been a constant battle," Flanagan said. She has fought illness and struggled financially.
"The kids have gone through so much," said Flanagan. "Now this."
Flanagan said the help she has received so far is "phenomenal." City Councilor "Diane LeBlanc is like my angel," said Flanagan.
LeBlanc, one of Flanagan's neighbors, did 10 loads of laundry for her Sunday and is helping to coordinate volunteer efforts to help Flanagan pick up the pieces.
"The mayor has been unbelievable," said Flanagan.
The YMCA has donated a three-month membership to the family, and structural engineer Ben Abrams and hydrologist Ed Change have offered to help.
Bagnell Electric and Fusco Electric are doing work, and Chris Curtin, a general contractor, is coordinating some contractor services.
Diane LeBlanc said Flanagan still needs legal help to appeal the insurance company's decision.
"We need to get the message out that this family needs help," said LeBlanc.
Flanagan said she will never forego flood insurance again and hopes others will learn from her experience.
"I feel like I'm 16 and starting all over again," she said.
LeBlanc said those interested in helping the family should contact her at 781-526-1285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to the family can be sent to the Flanagan/Shlager Flood Fund c/o Watertown Savings Bank, 6 Lexington St., Waltham, MA 02452. Attn: Gerri Bonanno.
Daily News Tribune writer Jen Judson can be reached at 781-398-8004 or email@example.com.