It's a familiar story. A construction company is doing work in the neighborhood when a disaster occurs. The company gets blamed for contributing to the problem. An investigation ensues. Only this time, the company doesn't wait for the investigation.
The owners of Calumet City-based Hasse Construction bought dozens of pizzas for residents whose homes were flooded in the 6600 block of California Avenue in Hammond. The pizzas weren't meant to keep the residents' mouths shut but rather to facilitate conversation Friday.
It was a good dialogue.
Even before the investigation was finished, construction manager John Hasse told residents that apparently Wednesday's torrential rains -- up to three inches fell -- swept sand into a sewer line, blocking the flow, so sewer water and sewage backed up into basements.
"We're all frustrated with the situation, and we're not quite sure whose fault it is yet," Hasse said Friday.
When the company heard about the backups, crews were on the scene an hour later and worked all night, he said.
The residents' stories of the property damage are heart-breaking. Anyone who has experienced a basement flooded with sewage will understand.
"It was like someone opened up a fountain in each person's basement," resident Art Vazquez said. "I watched people panic. I hoped the lady on the corner here. She tried her best bailing it like you'd put out an old-time Chicago fire, and it was useless."
Hasse Construction deserves a shout-out for not waiting for the results of the investigation before stepping in to help homeowners whose basements flooded.
The company hired restoration companies to clean up the mess in residents' basements and is offering to pay for hotel rooms for homeowners who need them. That's good corporate citizenship.
That's what put an unfamiliar twist on what began as a familiar unfortunate story.