Local businesses and community members step up to help save Janesville veteran’s home

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Companies in south central Wisconsin are stepping up to help a Janesville disabled veteran left with thousands of dollars in damages after a city sewer line caused a sewage backup into her basement in September.

Maggie Haffrey’s insurance didn’t cover the damages–starting with a $15,000 cleanup and basement repair bill, and compounded by a destroyed furnace, heater, washer and dryer, and sump pump. The city rejected any liability of her claim, despite the damages occurring because of a blockage on the city’s main line and not on her private lateral or sewage system. Living with a disability, on a social security fixed income, and already coping with the loss of her daughter to cancer earlier in the year–Haffrey had exhausted her search for resources to restore her lifelong home to a livable condition.

A Janesville-based director at Paul Davis Restoration flagged News 3 Investigates’ story for the company as something they could potentially help out with, communications director Jesse Laz-Hirsch said. Representatives checked out the basement this weekend, got the furnace running, and plan to start the cleanup this coming Wednesday using a donated dumpster from Monona-based company Royal Container Services.

“Going to get rid of some stuff, clean up what needs to be cleaned up, and then kind of look at where the mechanicals are,” Laz-Hirsch explained. “We’re always looking for people who have fallen through the cracks. Our company vision is to provide extraordinary care while serving people in their time of need. The culture of our company is very service-based, and when we see these types of situations where somebody is sort of helpless–and if we’re able to help them, we certainly want to.”

Janesville-based company DeGarmo Plumbing plans to donate a water heater free of charge once the cleanup is complete, the company confirmed to News 3 on Monday. “When we’re able to help out in the community, that’s what we want to do.”

A GoFundMe account also picked up steam, with individuals donating sometimes hundreds at a time to help the Haffreys.

“We would like to give a huge thank you to both Craig DeGarmo from DeGarmo Plumbing and Paul Davis Restoration,” Maggie’s daughter told News 3 in an email. “Also all the generosity of the community donating to the GoFundMe.” Angie said the money in the GoFundMe–now at more than $10,000 raised–will go towards replacing equipment like the furnace, washer and dryer, sump pump, and personal belongings destroyed during the damage.

“Ask for help when you need it,” Laz-Hirsch said, and referenced a quote from Martin Luther King Junior in honor of the holiday.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”