Owners of a Noah's Ark replica file a lawsuit over rain damage

They claim insurers failed to cover damages

By Evan Simko-Bednarski, CNN
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Ark Encounter is seen in Williamstown, Kentucky.

(CNN) - Owners of a replica of Noah's Ark are suing their insurers, saying the companies failed to adequately cover damage to the surrounding property caused by heavy rain.

The ark itself -- a 510-foot wooden ship modeled after the biblical ark -- made it through the rain just fine, a representative for Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, told CNN. But the rainfall in 2017 and 2018 caused a "significant landslide" on the property, which undermined an access road leading to the massive wooden vessel.

As a result, the access road was unsafe to use and repairs cost approximately $1 million, according to court documents.

The park filed suit this week in US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, alleging its insurers acted in bad faith after investigating the property damage.

The suit claims that representatives from five of the park's insurers told the owners to proceed with repairs but have since paid only "a very small portion" of the $1 million cost.

Park owners are seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

Melany Ethridge of Ark Encounter made it clear Friday that the waters were not quite of biblical proportions.

"Contrary to some reporting, the damage to certain areas of the Ark Encounter themed attraction was not caused by a 'flood,' " she said in an email to CNN.

She confirmed that the damage had been repaired, and that the ark had not been at risk.

"The ark was built on bedrock and was never in jeopardy," she said.

"We are highly confident of the merits of our case as we seek a fair resolution with the insurance companies."

Information on the insurers' attorneys was not immediately available. CNN has reached out to the insurers.

Noah's Ark is a craft described in Christian, Jewish and Islamic holy texts as a vessel inspired by God to save Noah -- described as a righteous man -- his family, and at least two of every creature on Earth from a global flood sparked by 40 days of nonstop rain.

Ark Encounter says on its website that its model ark is "full size," and built to biblical specifications.

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