She is 67, has a broken toe, and stretches her Social Security check by selling woven and knitted work at the Sunday Market.

On Tuesday, Margaret Thierry's basement was fouled after a water main broke.

On Wednesday came worse news: The city may not pay for it.

The break caused a flood in the 600 block of 34th Street, near the area where earth movement damaged dozens of homes and a church a couple of years ago.

While the city is investigating, the claims adjuster for the city's insurance company, David Ford, has told Thierry the incident is not the city's responsibility.

Thierry is upset.

"We all know the city is responsible for pipes on the other side of the meter. I was sure the city would cover it," Thierry said. "The sophistry of the claims adjuster is if I had complained to the city and they had ignored me, then they would have been responsible, but since the city didn't do it on purpose, then they are not responsible."

Thierry said that really upsets her. "I'm glad I took some pictures," she said, adding her next step will be call her homeowner's insurance company again.

"A city is not automatically liable for damage for a pipe that may break. The cause still hasn't been determined," claims adjuster Ford of City County Insurance Services (CIS) of Portland told The Daily Astorian today.

He said the city was not aware of any defect with the pipe. "Had they known about it, they would have been responsible," Ford said. He said the investigation is still pending.

Thierry said she had a water problem about eight months ago and the city came out and checked, and said it was not the landslide that had caused it. The break Tuesday, between the main and the meter, was in the same area of the pipe that had caused a problem earlier, she said.

Astoria City Manager Dan Bartlett said the 6-inch cast iron main broke around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and public works staff responded to a callout by a police dispatcher. A utility worker was on scene by 10:10 p.m., he said, and the repair was completed and the water was turned back on by 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. Later in the morning, a public works crew helped clean out the basement of the home and cleaned up the area of the water main break.

Thierry estimates damage to her basement and its contents at around $5,000. She said the yarn and hats she sells at her booth at the Sunday Market were stored in the basement. Because Thierry has a broken toe, neighbors helped carry the items upstairs. Some were a total loss, she said.

Bartlett said Wednesday it is "inconclusive at this point whether the break was caused by movement or material failure," and the city will continue to evaluate the incident.

After hearing from Ford, the claims adjuster, today, Bartlett said he believes the break is accidental. He said Ford is discussing the claim with Thierry's insurance company.

And he said the city needs to do a thorough investigation "to be sure the city isn't taken advantage of and the homeowner is fairly compensated."

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