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Elderly veteran fighting to save family home

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We all know the damage water can do to a home, and perhaps no one knows more than Dale Warner of Bethlehem. 

The 82-year-old Marine Corps veteran is fighting to undo years of damage that has destroyed his basement and his personal belongings. 

Dale has stage 4 cancer, so now his friend Lynn Winiesdorffer is advocating for him, trying to make him comfortable in a home that’s been in his family for decades. 

“It’s a good strong house,” Warner said about his home. “It don’t look that way from the outside, but it is. It’s a good strong house.” 

The Chapel Road house may be strong, but it’s in desperate need of repairs. 

“We really need to have something done,” Winiesdorffer said. 

When Warner became ill in August of 2018 and spent some time in the hospital and hospice care, Winiesdorffer went to prepare his home for his return. What she found was a health hazard. 

“When I went down to the basement I had saw all the destruction down there,” Winiesdorffer described. “I know Dale didn’t know what was down there because he couldn’t use the steps.” 

Everything in the basement was ruined; covered in water, mud and black mold. 

Warner said the house has been getting water in the basement since his parents lived there. 

“My mother and dad did it for so many years and they got either no response or it’s not our problem, so I just thought I was wasting my time,” he continued. 

Warner explained that the water comes from a pipe that leads from a culvert across the road onto his property.  He also believes the state installed the pipe. When he was in good health, Warner cleaned water out of the basement many times.  

Winiesdorffer called the state last pipe. Crews with the Division of Highways then sealed off the pipe to prevent further damage. 

“It’s going to be a very costly thing. A very costly thing,” Winiesdorffer said. 

They estimate it will be $22,000 to fix the foundation and another $3,000 for mold removal.

“That does not include the damage that it was a semi-finished basement and then everything he lost in the basement,” Winiesdorffer explained. 

Dale’s homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost, so Winiesdorffer made a video and sent nearly 30 copies to officials to see where she could turn for help. 

7News reached out to the state through the Division of Highways. 

Officials confirmed that they sealed off the pipe about two weeks after Winiesdorffer originally called and have seen the property. They also say they have no records that the pipe actually belongs to the state. Officials also feel they’ve done all they can do at the local level and feel the damage could also have been caused by the extremely wet weather. 

They said now Winiesdorffer and Warner have to turn to turn to West Virginia’s Court of Claims. 

“I’ve had some who have actually said they would love to come and help,” Winiesdorffer said of the online response after she shared the video on social media. “I’ve had one person who said they would donate the dry wall, but we do know our fist step is we have to get rid of the mold and get the foundation fixed because that’s that’s a health issue.” 

Even when the foundation is fixed and mold is removed, the basement, back deck and yard still need repaired, so Lynn and Dale have a long journey ahead of them. 

Winiesdorffer said she has gotten a few responses from lawmakers she sent the video to who are willing to see what they can do to help with the situation.

She also told 7News she is beginning filing with the Court of Claims. According to Winiesdorffer, once she turns in a claim, the DOH has 30 to 60 days to either agree or deny their request. If it’s denied, they have to get additional information and the approval must go through the legislature. That could take until January of 2020. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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