Sewage damage cleanup begins

Public service district's insurance to pay for family's stay at hotel

Public service district's insurance to pay for family's stay at hotel

January 08, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The Warm Springs Public Service District's insurance company will pay for a Vernon Street family whose home was damaged by sewage to be housed at the Best Western through Jan. 16, homeowner Deborah Harris said.

The family was helped initially by the American Red Cross.

When the sewer department responded to a call Tuesday from Harris that raw sewage was gushing outside a blocked sewage pipe, department workers used 200 pounds of pressure to unclog it - a force that "flooded the home with sewage," Harris said.

Harris said her son, his wife and baby live in the small two-bedroom home and she lives in a trailer on the property that was not damaged. The home became uninhabitable when sewage was forced into the bathroom toilet, sink and bathtub, and into the kitchen sink, which overflowed onto the floors, she said.

Harris said a contractor was at the house Thursday to review the damage and prepare an estimate. W. Karl Prodoehl of Upstate Adjusters Inc. of Cumberland, Md., reviewed the damage Thursday afternoon.


He said, depending on the contractor's schedule, he thought repairs to the house could be made soon because the work was inside.

Also, "it costs the insurance company more to pay for loss of use," Prodoehl said.

Harris said she and her family members and neighbors received Tetanus and Hepatitis A shots at the Morgan County Health Department on Wednesday.

A cleaning company spent all day Wednesday at the house and removed carpets and some of the flooring.

"Fixtures in the bathroom and the kitchen sink have been removed," she said.

Lynette Stotler, who lives next door at 3 Vernon St., said her well might be contaminated, and she and her family are waiting for the outcome of the tests. They are drinking bottled water and using all disposable products in the meantime. The water will be monitored for six months, Stotler said.

She said she notice sewage gushing about 10 a.m. Tuesday and could not believe the sewer department did not respond right away. She said she also called sewer department manager, Rodney Hovermale, about 11 a.m. but was told he could not come to the site. She said she was ready to go to the sewer department when she saw Hovermale following Harris in his car after Harris went to get him.

Harris said Hovermale arrived at the site about 12:30 p.m. Sewer department workers were already there, she said.

"This was a catastrophe which all could have been avoided," Stotler said.

Hovermale said the reason it took so long to respond was they did not understand the problem.

Hovermale said sewer department workers wanted to open the line in a hurry.

"They thought it was more important to open it quickly," he said, instead of digging up the manhole. "It was successful in the past."

"This was an unfortunate accident," Hovermale said.

Hovermale said the department will view the main 8-inch sewer pipe with a camera to see if it is obstructed with tree roots, which he suspects was the cause of the obstruction.

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