Before last week, Landyn Medina didn’t know anyone at all on Darnell Place in Cheyenne, where several homes were inundated by a literal river of water after a 12-inch city water main shattered from the freezing and thawing of the hillside where it was located.
Not knowing anyone in the neighborhood didn’t stop Medina, however. Tuesday morning, he was knocking on every door in person, a notebook in hand, checking in with members of the neighborhood.
“I’m just checking on everyone that was affected by the flood,” he told one man who was returning from work. “And we’re doing a couple of fundraisers and some meal trains to help people in the neighborhood.”
That particular resident said he hadn’t been affected by the flooding all that much, but knowing how badly his neighbors were affected, he asked Medina to return in a couple of days so he could make a few donations.
Medina added that to his notebook afterward, to remind himself when and where the man had said to return, then continued on to the next house, the next neighbors, to ask how they are doing in the flood’s aftermath.
Nope, Not A Joke
Medina isn’t a city worker or an elected official in Cheyenne. He’s not the mayor, he’s not a councilman for the district.
He describes himself as your garden-variety, middle class working stiff — just like everyone else — but he just happens to run a Facebook page called Connections (Cheyenne) in his spare time, which has 21,000-and-some followers.
Medina first learned of the flooding on Darnell Place from a Facebook post by a friend named Alan Jones, who owns Rocky Mountain Restoration. At first, though, Medina thought it was a joke.
“It was a picture of Ben and Phylicia’s basement, and the water was all the way to the ceiling,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “So, I thought it was just something they’d found off the Internet.”
But when Medina texted Jones about the photo, he didn’t get a response.
That wasn’t like his friend, so Medina called instead.
“He’s like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m like up to my eyes in water and it’s been crazy,’” Medina said. “And he said, ‘Didn’t you see my post on our page?’ And I was like, “Yeah, but I thought it was fake.’”
Finding out that the photo wasn’t fake, Medina reached out to Phylicia Peterson on Facebook before going over there in person, to see what he could do to help her as well.
“I feel like if you have the ability to do something, then you also have the responsibility to do something,” he said. “With me being able to reach enough people, I have the ability in times like this to help, so I definitely feel responsible. That’s how my wife and I got involved.”
Homeowners Facing Bills Between $30,000 to $80,000
The situation at Ben and Phylicia Peterson’s place may have been so bad it seemed fake online, but it is a catastrophe still spinning out of control in real life for those whose homes have been damaged.
Homeowners in the neighborhood have been quoted repair bills ranging from $30,000 to $80,000, none of which will be covered by their homeowner’s policies because the water source came from outside their homes — a city water main.
The homeowners have been told by their insurers that since they’re not in a flood plain they cannot even get flood insurance. But even if they had it, flood insurance would not cover this type of incident, where the source of the water was a city water main.
City officials, meanwhile, have told the families, as well as Cowboy State Daily, that those whose homes were inundated by flood waters will have to submit a claim to the Board of Public Utilities’ insurer, which could take up to a month to process.
The homeowners’ understanding, meanwhile, is that their claim is likely to be denied unless the city is found negligent in some fashion by its own insurer.
Phylicia fears that the insurer will put the incident down as an “act of God,” meaning it’s no one’s fault, and thus no one’s responsibility.
If their insurance claims are denied, the families can appeal to the Board of Public Utilities for compensation. After that, if BOPU denies their claims for compensation, they’ll have no recourse but to sue the city, which could take years to play out.
In the meantime, the families have to take actions now if they want to save their homes — expensive actions they cannot necessarily afford.
In fact, some of the restoration services quoting prices to the families wanted money up front before they would do any work, Phylicia Peterson told Cowboy State Daily, and, in her family’s case, the bill they were quoted is upward of $80,000.
“I have to give Cowboy Jones and Rocky Mountain Restoration kudos,” she said. “They just showed up and started working. And they have explained every single step of the process. They’ve honestly been so kind, and I can’t say it enough.”
Medina couldn’t believe his eyes the first time he visited Darnell Place just after the flooding. Mud slicks covered the neighborhood, making it slippery and dangerous for anyone walking. Standing water in puddles dotted the landscape and yards had clearly been wrecked.
A food pantry for homeless people had been upended, Christmas decorations not yet put away had been toppled.
Two large industrial dumpsters were filling up with flood-soaked drywall, ruined flooring, and broken appliances.
But it was the water-filled basements, with children’s toys and random plastic bottles floating on top, that really hit home to Medina.
“It’s hard for everyone out there right now, because the price of everything is through the roof. We were all already living paycheck to paycheck before this,” Medina told Cowboy State Daily.
“To have something like this happen, I can’t imagine if that happened to my family,” he said, shaking his head. “We’re already struggling, you know, and then to get something like that … ugh.”
That has Medina spending his free time crowdsourcing help for the families in the Cahill Park neighborhood, as well as bringing them small donations of food from places like the Twinkle Twinkle Little Store. Medina slipped a $20 bill into some of the food boxes, tucking it between a jar of peanut butter and some canned soup.
“I’m going to use some of the cash donations we’ve received to make more money for the families,” Medina said. “We’re going to be doing a couple of fundraisers. There’s a painting company in town — not like walls, but they do like date nights and stuff like that. They’re going to be putting on like a paint (and sip) night and 100% of the proceeds are going toward helping the families.”
Culvers on Dell Range as well as the Qdoba, meanwhile, have also offered to do fundraising nights, Medina said.
He and his wife are also setting up a phone tree with volunteers from his Facebook page, who will be calling Cheyenne businesses to ask for donations for an upcoming online auction.
Medina’s email, for those wanting to contribute to the effort in some fashion, is Landyn91@gmail.com.
Medina said he hopes money from the auction can go toward helping the families, as well as some of the businesses, like Rocky Mountain Restoration, which stepped up to help the families despite not having any cash up front for the job.
“I mean, we have a local company who is not wanting to charge them personally,” Medina said. “They want to wait until (there’s a settlement). But I mean that’s going to do a big number on their business.”
How To Help
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.