Overflowing sewer pushes Morristown woman out of her home

Overflowing sewer pushes Morristown woman out of her home

Posted:
Judy Watt's basement flooded with sewage. Judy Watt's basement flooded with sewage.
"I want this to stop," homeowner Judy Watts said. "I want out of this sewer hole. I just want my life back." "I want this to stop," homeowner Judy Watts said. "I want out of this sewer hole. I just want my life back."
The sewage came from Morristown's wastewater system, which was apparently unable to handle the pressure. The sewage came from Morristown's wastewater system, which was apparently unable to handle the pressure.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

MORRISTOWN (WATE) - The record amount of rain in January brought extreme hardship for a family in Morristown.

Twice the city moved them from their house and put them in a motel.

As meteorologist Matt Hinkin reported last week, the month of January was one of the wettest on record, with 13 inches of precipitation and even more in other areas.

The last time there was more rainfall in the first month of the year was all the way back in 1882.

A Morristown woman knows that all too well.

The quiet hum of a sump pump is all you hear in Judy Watts' flooded basement as it sucks out contaminated water for the second time in two weeks.

The source is an overflowing sanitary sewer. The flow found a path 20 feet down a slope right into Watts' backyard. Even her neighbor's home couldn't escape the rising water.

Watts says the smell is so bad, at times it is unbearable.

Twice in January, Judy's basement flooded following heavy rain.

Both times, the sewage came from Morristown's wastewater system, which was apparently unable to handle the pressure.

"I stay stressed every time it rains," Watts told 6 On Your Side. "I'm scared to death when it happens and what I'm going to lose. I try to get everything off the floor, but I just can't get it all.

Water in the basement started rising Wednesday night, Jan. 30. That's when Judy's son-in-law, who also lives in the home, started worrying.

"That's the main line through Morristown," Helton said as he showed us the issue. "It gushed out and as you see right down into our backyard.

"It's horrible," said Watts' daughter Melinda Helton. "When we have to leave the house, we have to take her oxygen, her breathing machine, everything."

The city quickly started draining the pond in Watts' yard, however nearly six years ago, the same thing happened.

"Oh, honey, it was like a river running through the top part of my house," Watts recalled.

Much of the stuff swamped and ruined in her basement was new. Watts said the city insurance paid her nearly $40,000 to repair damage when her home flooded in 2007.

"When it's done, they clean it up with bleach and they spread lime on your backyard," she said. "It doesn't take care of the mold or loss of your stuff."

Morristown's public works director tells 6 on your Side the city's wastewater treatment plant received 13 inches of rain over a two week period in January, creating several sanitary related issues.

Buddie Fielder says the city replaced several feet of sewer line at Watts' home six years. But fixing these more recent spills, he said, is more complicated.

However, public works has a plan to relocate the main sewer line through Watts' neighborhood. That project is about ready to be bid and fixing the line could begin this summer.
    
That isn't soon enough for the Watts family that is tired of having to move out of their home when it rains hard.

"I want this to stop," Watts said. "I want out of this sewer hole. I just want my life back."

As of Monday, the flood water is out of Judy's basement.

She says the city has applied bleach and disinfectant in her basement, as well as spread lime in the backyard to kill the bacteria.    

Watts says an insurance adjuster came Monday to assess damage, however, she's still not in her house. 


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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