Oak Forest residents say raw sewage is backing up in their homes

They claim they've had raw sewage back up onto their streets and in their homes, creating a disgusting mess
December 9, 2013 2:44:08 PM PST
Some Houston residents say something is wrong with the sewer. They claim they've had raw sewage back up onto their streets and into their homes, creating a disgusting mess.

The problem has been going on in the Oak Forest neighborhood just off West 43rd Street for days, according to residents.

A lot of the homes and the infrastructure in this area were built in the 1940s, but residents say raw sewage coming up out of the drains is unacceptable, no matter how old the sewer pipes are.

In the house where Marcia Carter has lived for 51 years, she got an unpleasant surprise on Friday.

"This overflowed; there was sludge in here; it did not overflow the bathtub, but it did the toilet," Carter said.

She took photographs of the mess as a slurry of raw sewage not only flooded her bathtub but also covered the floor, all the way into her living room.

She says an independent contractor hired by the city was working on a manhole right outside her house, and that forced the raw sewage to back up into her house.

Workers called a professional cleanup company to take care of the mess.

"It was cold that day. I had to turn my heater off and open the windows because it was so bad, the smell," Carter said.

But the problem is not just isolated to one house in the Oak Forest neighborhood. Raw sewage is still running in the gutter, treated with chlorine.

"You can smell it in the house. Depends on which way the wind's blowing," neighbor Ciro Bua said.

Bua has lived here for more than two decades and says the old sewers have long been a problem. But he says this started before Thanksgiving.

"I've called them many times, and they say it's cleared and, as you can see, it's not cleared," Bua said.

A spokesperson for the City of Houston Public Works Department told us on the phone that there was a line collapse in the area, and repairs were scheduled for Monday night or Tuesday. Meanwhile, he said, the city will be taking steps to repair the aging sewer pipes, too -- a longer-term fix that will take more time to implement but is on the city's priority list.

Carter says she just hopes she doesn't find raw sewage inside her house again.

"I don't want to live thinking I'm going to have sewer in my house," she said.

The city spokesperson also says that if more neighbors in the Oak Forest area call 311 to complain about the sewer lines, it will move higher up on the priority list.

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