Fort Lauderdale family evacuated during historic April flooding. So with no one home for months, why the big water bills?  – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale


(WSVN) – One Fort Lauderdale family evacuated their home during the historic flooding in April. So, with no one living there for months, why are they still getting big water bills? Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.

This is video from the night of April 12, as the Fort Lauderdale home of Joe Jarkesy flooded.

Joe Jarkesy, homeowner: “Water is coming in. It’s not stopping. Mopping isn’t doing anything.”

With the water rising, Joe, his pregnant wife, their two children and the family dog evacuated that night.

They still haven’t moved back.

Joe Jarkesy: “Yeah, you can see on the door. This is kind of where it was. Actually, a little bit higher outside.”

More than four months later, their home is still gutted. There are no sinks, no showers and no toilets connected.

Joe Jarkesy: “There’s no water hooked up.”

Nobody is using water inside the home, but the water bills keep flowing.

Joe Jarkesy: “I noticed that the bill that they had been charging me, it’s not like a big difference from my normal bill. It’s kind of in line, but it really should have been nothing.”

Since April, Joe has been billed more than $800 for tens of thousands of gallons of water.

Workers have had access to an outside hose, but Joe says there is no way that could explain the massive water use.

Joe Jarkesy: “So this is where the flood happened.”

Joe believes his bill spiked because of a water line leak that flooded the street on May 17.

Two days later, the city read Joe’s meter. They claimed he used 12,000 gallons of water that month and hit him with his biggest bill of the year: $266.

A work order shows crews found the “…water leak on city side.”

Joe Jarkesy: “It came from the giant leak that was happening in the street that was very close to my meter.”

Karen Hensel: “But should that leak be your fault?”

Joe Jarkesy: “They told me it was on their side.”

Karen Hensel: “So why should you pay for a city water main break?”

Joe Jarkesy: “Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

But the city says Joe did not pay for that leak. They say a leak at the meter on the city side would not register over here on Joe’s side. So, with no one living in the home, Joe still wonders how he is being billed for so much water he says he couldn’t have used.

Joe Jarkesy: “So I was really surprised that the city wouldn’t work with me.”

He contacted the City of Fort Lauderdale asking for a bill adjustment, but was disappointed by the response.

Joe Jarkesy: “I explained that there’s nothing hooked up. My house is gutted. There’s nothing but studs. There’s nowhere for water to be not only pulled from, but go into a sewer. But their response was very quick: ‘If it’s not 200% of your normal usage, there’s nothing we can do.’”

But there is something you can do.

Joe Jarkesy: “I think the story is important, because I think other people need to look at their bills.”

While the cause of Joe’s water woes remains a mystery, Fort Lauderdale says, if a home will be vacant for more than three months, residents should call the city to have their meter officially turned off.

But since Joe didn’t do that, he’s stuck footing the bill for what has been a flood of frustration.


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