by: Carl Willis Updated:
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. - A children's dance and gymnastics studio is struggling to reopen after being flooded by sewer water.
"Nothing is operable," said owner Amber Strickland. "We have no drywall, no flooring throughout."
Strickland showed Channel 2's Carl Willis what she estimates as thousands of dollars worth of ruined mats and equipment.
"You can see the water mark here," she said pointing to a line about 4 inches off of the ground.
The damage was caused by a city of Douglasville/Douglas County sewer line that backed up and overflowed all of the studio's bathrooms.
Strickland said 10 items were tested by a hygienist and at least seven of them tested positive for E. coli bacteria.
"By the time I got here, the front door to the back door was completely flooded with sewer water," said Strickland.
She said the process of getting her studio back up and running has been a roller coaster ride.
"It's affected a lot of people, not just me and my family, but 200 families in Douglas County, and we just want to get our gym back together and get these kids back to their normal routines," she said.
Most recently the Douglasville Douglas County Water Sewer Authority's insurance company denied her claim due to "sovereign immunity," a defense that governments can use when there's been no advance notice of a problem.
"While you can stand behind that from a legal perspective, I'm not sure that's the right thing to do and there in lies part of the problem," said Peter Frost, the executive director of WSA.
Frost told Willis that he is asking the insurance company to reevaluate the claim. He also said he's working to verify Strickland's claim that the flooding caused a total of $165,000 in damages.
"I suspect it's going to be between $40,000 and
"It's like having a car damaged," he said. "If you damaged your 1982 Buick, you don't get a new Cadillac in return, and I'm not saying that person's been asking for that but we've just got to do the right thing."
Strickland said the longer it takes to reach an agreement, the longer Douglasville children are left without an outlet that can keep them on the right path.
"I'm just hoping that we can get it resolved as quickly as possible for the sake of the students that we have here," said Strickland.