Flooded storage facility in Oakland damages precious belongings

Wet weather may be to blame for flooding at an Oakland storage facility, where many people lost precious belongings, the management at a U-Haul storage facility said.

People were notified Thanksgiving day that underground storage units were flooded. And on Monday, customers and moving crews cleaned up and cleared out property from the U-Haul storage on 81st and San Leandro streets.  An underground water main on the property burst, possibly related to rain runoff, according to management.

Customers were upset. 

“I opened the door to my unit and you can see there's probably about 4- to 6-inches of water, some of the boxes have very visible damage,” said Gina Stiems. "People are angry, people are frustrated and things are not moving fast.  It's pretty bad." 

 Piles of now worthless items are stacking up, and truckloads have already been hauled away.

Everything from furniture to family heirlooms, thousands of items damaged or worse. 

Some customers said they don't have or weren’t offered insurance on their units.  U-Haul says those without insurance can file a claim.

“I have some books in there that were written oh, they were given to my great-great-grandmother and they were autographed by the author of the books, and they were limited edition. Those are all wet," said Susan Reynolds.  “One of the insurance adjusters I had, as we started to go through it, I started crying and he was very sympathetic and said, you know what go get some air and when you're ready, well go back through this.  But some of the loss, I can never get back." 

 Moving crews are relocating people's belongings to vacant units, or trucking items to a nearby warehouse.

 Some say the number of people affected is overwhelming workers and it's taking days to get help.

 A customer who bought unit insurance says her claim was processed on-site on Monday, and she maxed out at $1,000, less than the damage incurred.

“Within a couple of days they should be processing the check so, I should just be getting a check,” said Brenda Thompson.

U-Haul says it won't be able to repair the damaged pipe until a break in the weather.

Management would not say how many units were affected, but one customer says she's confident it's more than 250.

It will take many more days, possibly weeks to clear out all the storage units and settle claims.