Past flood damage renders Onalaska home ‘uninhabitable’

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ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Chy Hang and Houa Xiong lived in their house on Well Street for more than two decades, but they lost the home during last week’s record rainfall.

During the storm, Hang’s basement caved in. Both he and his wife were in the house at the time.

“This side’s already collapsed. I heard ‘BOOM!’ and I told my wife, ‘Oh, no. Something happened.’ But I didn’t know my property gave out,” Hang said.

After that moment, home would never be the same again. The city of Onalaska deemed Hang’s home uninhabitable.

Insurance did not cover the damage, and now the family has nowhere to go.

“Right now, I can’t find a house or any place to live. I’m still waiting for Couleecap to call me,” Hang said.

Hang’s house isn’t the only one that was hit on Well Street.

“Three people on this block had to move out because their homes were totally flooded,” said neighbor Randy Grubbs.

Grubbs, Hang and other neighbors went to city council to voice their concerns about the water damage and sewer system.

“I told the mayor, this is not how I live in America in my dream,” Hang said.

“I just hope the city does something. When I went to the meeting, they didn’t say anything about it,” Grubbs said. “We all got to speak, but they didn’t say anything back.”

Onalaska City Administrator Eric Rindfleisch said the sewer system was working properly but was overwhelmed. It was designed to handle 3.3 inches of rain in an hour, but the area got an unprecedented 4.4 inches in 45 minutes.

This isn’t the first time Hang’s house had significant damage, either.

In 2010, a major flood damaged the basement, leaving it barren.

“I don’t know if my life’s going to come back again,” Hang said. “I planned to retire early, but now I can’t because of this. I want the public to know that if you want to buy a house, please do research.”

A GoFundMe for Hang, set up by Hang’s son, Makoto, is nearly at its $10,000 goal. The page, with more information on Hang’s story, can be found here.