Baldy Mountain Townhomes residents displaced due to flooding
Town of Breckenridge provided free housing for almost 3 months during repairs
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that tenants did not pay rent to their Baldy Mountain Townhomes landlords while they were displaced.
In early August, a water line break above Boreas Loop in Breckenridge left several units in Baldy Mountain Townhomes flooded.
Since the flooding Aug. 9, residents have been displaced as insurance companies and contractors work to repair damage, and some folks have yet to return home three months later.
Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman said a contractor was doing work uphill of Baldy Mountain and broke a town water line. When the water was shut off to repair the break, the pressure was too much for the hot water heaters in Baldy Mountain Townhomes.
“When the water pressure got to be too high, pretty much the only place that it could come out was at the water heater because they have these pressure-release valves,” Baldy Mountain Townhomes property manager Nick Frey said.
Frey said he was on-site the day of the incident and was able to help residents as the flooding started.
“I went in and the water heater basically exploded and was just pouring hot water from the second floor down to the first floor and down into the crawlspace,” Frey said. “There was like 2 inches of standing water. It was pouring through all the lights in the ceiling. … There was food floating by, shoes, old clothing that was soaking up all the water. It was gnarly.”
Frey said he was up until almost midnight that day checking the water heaters in 40 units in Baldy Mountain to prevent any further damage. He said five units fully flooded, three of which were long-term rentals with four tenants each.
While the situation was stressful, Frey said working with the town of Breckenridge, its insurance company and the homeowners association has been an “amazing collaboration.” For those who couldn’t stay in their homes due to the damage, the town of Breckenridge offered some of its Buy Down program units to folks free of charge through Nov. 1.
“It was really awesome to see how the town helped deal with the crazy part first with the housing, and then within just a few days, I got on the phone with their insurance, and the insurance said, ‘Look, we’re taking full responsibility for this,” Frey said. “… The town has been amazing to work with through this whole process, and so I would expect that that’s going to continue.”
Frey said there’s six figures worth of repairs needed, with each unit running close to $100,000.
“We were trying to be helpful because we assume some responsibility for the damage,” Holman said. “And so we’ve tried to be helpful and give them a place to stay for a while knowing that it wouldn’t be forever.”
Holman said the town’s insurance would reimburse residents for the cost of housing after Nov. 1 if they were not able to get back in their Baldy Mountain units. It is unclear how many folks have yet to return to their homes and where they found short-term housing — if they were able to — as ski season is kicking off.
“We believe we have been very accommodating to allow them to use our vacant units for free during this time instead of following the standard claim process of asking them to obtain their own housing and be reimbursed for it as part of the claim,” town spokesperson Helen Cospolich wrote in an email. “We also gave them a month’s warning about us needing to use the units for other purposes in November. They will be reimbursed for any housing costs incurred during this time.”
Tenants did not pay rent to their landlords at Baldy Mountain in the aftermath of the flood, Frey clarified Tuesday.
Russ Blackhouse rents out his Baldy Mountain townhome long term, and the flooding occurred right as his tenants were about to renew their lease. Since the town was putting them up, and he was unable to provide housing, he didn’t charge them rent until they were able to return to their units in mid-October.
Blackhouse said it was impressive that the town was able to house those who were displaced and it makes him proud to be part of the Breckenridge community.
“I just really respect the town for stepping up and accepting it for what happened and taking care of what they could take care of to ameliorate the circumstances,” Blackhouse said. “No one’s perfect, but they do a really good job.”
Joyce Ruderman lives in her Baldy Mountain townhome full time and sometimes rents out other rooms. She said she was lucky to have had a helpful renter in her unit when the flooding occurred. The renter contacted the property manager and moved things around in her home to protect them.
Because she has a friend who owns an Airbnb locally, Ruderman has been able to stay there at a discounted rate since the flood. Her unit had asbestos that had to be removed, and the area behind the water heater had to be repaired along with large portions of her walls and floors. She also had insulation in her crawl space that was destroyed.
There is still work going on in Ruderman’s unit through the end of November, partly because insurance pays for only the damaged portions, and she is ordering additional work to keep her home looking uniform.
“If a wall is damaged, which they were, insurance will pay till the next corner,” Ruderman said. “However, if you’re going to repair and repaint, you can’t just paint one wall and leave the others as is. … So even though insurance is going to pay for the parts that are damaged, fixing those really demands that the rest of the house gets put to the same level of repair, which means I’m out of pocket.”
Ruderman said this is the same case with flooring, and since the flooring she currently has in her home is no longer in stock, she is paying to replace the flooring in one part of her home that was not damaged from the flood in order to match the new flooring in the damaged areas.
“I was lucky. Even though there was damage, once the water was dried up until we started the work, my house was livable so that I could wait until contractors were available to do the work,” Ruderman said. “And in the long run, it does give me an opportunity to refloor and repaint, and given what real estate has done around here, it will give my house a more modern look so that in the long run, I suspect it’ll increase in value, and that’s a good thing.”
Ruderman applauded Frey for working with the town to ensure everything ran smoothly and said he did a stellar job.
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