AGOURA HILLS ( – A family is in a fight against the clock to stop the continuous flooding of its Agoura Hills home before it’s too late.

Beginning on Jan. 23, water has been seeping into the home. At first, the Dato family thought a pipe had burst, so they turned off the water to the house. Friends and family formed a bucket brigade for nearly 36 hours, but the water did not stop.

“My 8-year-old asked, ‘Are we going to die?’ ” homeowner Jen Dato said. “You can’t stop the water. He thinks we’re going to drown.”

Even the professional cleanup crews were stumped. Despite round-the-clock vacuums and fans, the water flow did not stop.

A geologist examined the property and finally determined the cause of the flooding: The Datos’ tract home was built on top of a creek bed and historical drainage.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Aaron Shiah with Service Master. “The water is whipping out through all the pipelines. It’s like a freshwater spring in the house.”

Shiah estimated that the water is coming into the house at a rate of 100 gallons a minute. As soon as the vacuum pumps are shut off, the water comes flooding back. One neighbor has water flooding their back yard. There is also water seeping out of cracks in the sidewalk.

“All the neighbors walk by with the look of fear in their eyes,” Greg Dato said. “It’s like ‘Poltergeist.’ You built on a graveyard. We’re all waiting to see what happens next.”

To make matters worse, the Datos say they are stuck footing the bill for the cleanup because their insurance won’t cover it. The insurance company says it doesn’t cover damage due to groundwater.

The city of Agoura Hills says the tract development was permitted before the city was incorporated. The city is now pulling old plans and investigating. The city has also added the home to a list of damaged properties it is providing under the governor’s state of emergency, which was declared after the recent rains.

On Monday, crews began to drill four 20-foot-deep wells to hopefully divert the water for good. However, there is no guarantee it will work. The price tag for the wells is tens of thousands of dollars.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for the cleanup efforts. To donate, click here.


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