WSVN — If you think you came home to a mess, listen to what two families got hit with: sewage boiling out of their sinks, tubs and toilets. Even worse, it was nine months ago, and so far, the company that did it and the city that hired them have not helped them out. It’s why they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
It’s something you just cannot imagine.
Diana Rodriguez: “When I came home I had [expletive] all the way up the walls. [Expletive] was just pouring out, it was just pouring out.”
Next door to Diana, Donna’s house had the same thing.
Patrick Fraser :”Where is your sink?”
Donna Scrima: “Gone. The sewer came up in the sink, the toilet.
Patrick Fraser: “And then it boiled over the top?”
Donna Scrima: “Yes, and then everything came down.”
It happened after U.S. Water Services was hired by the City of Pembroke Pines to work on the sewer lines.
Diana Rodriguez: “And we couldn’t come in because the water was seeping out the front door. It was all black water.”
On January 13th, the city official told Donna U.S. Water forgot to cap a sewer line. Raw sewage started pouring into Donna and Diana’s houses. Pictures after it stopped show it flowed over the tub, toilets, sinks, and flooded their houses.
Diana Rodriguez: “And we were probably four to six inches deep in sewage.”
Patrick Fraser: “In the entire house?”
Donna Scrima: “The entire house.”
Donna was renting her house to a tenant. Diana was living in her house. Both were told, “Don’t worry.”
Donna Scrima: “I got a phone call that U.S. Water was taking full responsibility and that our houses would be taken care of.”
U.S. Water sent in a restoration company to cut two feet of rotten drywall that was soaked in sewage. The toilets and sinks were removed, and then everything stopped.
Donna Scrima: “We have tried working with them, and they are not doing anything.”
With no help from anyone, Diana had to replace her sewage-soaked doors with cardboard doors. She also taped cardboard to replace the drywall so her grandchildren wouldn’t get hurt.
In Donna’s house, a test revealed mold growing under the floors.
Donna Scrima: “The floor has mold underneath it from the sewer seeping underneath, and the tiles are popping up.”
Donna says a specialist sent by U.S. Water told her she didn’t need to replace the tile floor, and she could just use bleach to clean the tub that was filled with sewage.
Diana Rodriguez: “It’s embarrassing. It’s terrible.”
Diana bought a plastic sink to wash dishes and brush her teeth, but she can’t get rid of the appliances that sat in sewage.
Diana Rodriguez: “I was told that I had to get a new refrigerator, but I can’t afford one.”
U.S. Water is being paid $42 million ($42,024,340) over the next five years by Pembroke Pines, so Donna called the City hoping they could do something to help them.
Diana Rodriguez: “Nobody seems to care. City of Pembroke Pines don’t.”
The women hired an attorney, who is suing U.S. Water and is considering suing Pembroke Pines for negligence, but nine months after the sewage spewed in, nothing has changed here.
Diana Rodriguez: “There are times when you come into the house and there is a smell. It comes and it goes.”
For nine months, nothing has gotten done, leaving Donna and Diana in a nightmare. Howard, legally the process is dragging on. Do the two homeowners have to just sit here and be dragged down?
Howard Finkelstein: “This is why people don’t like lawyers. The lawyers are fighting and dragging this out while a clear mistake has devastated two families. They clearly need help to get their lives back together and instead have to deal with houses that were filled with sewage. It’s not right.”
I first spoke to Bruce Johnson, the attorney representing Pembroke Pines in this case. He told me, ‘We think U.S. Water is responsible for the overflow, and we have asked them to resolve it. He added, “The City cannot force them to do anything.”
I spoke to Jim Gitkin, the attorney for Donna and Diana. He told me he sent U.S. Water a confidential settlement with the cost to repair the two homes. He said U.S. Water did not respond to their attempt to try to resolve it.
I contacted U.S. Water. I was told their corporate headquarters would get back to me. I am still waiting, and so are Donna and Diana.
Diana Rodriguez: “And these people don’t give an [expletive]. It’s not right. They’re living and taking vacations, and I am living like this?”
They are frustrated and angry, and it’s understandable. Lawyers have to protect their clients, but two people are suffering, and will get paid eventually. And in this case, if you are going to pay them eventually, just pay them immediately.
Problems dumped in your lap stinking up your life? Ready to flush them away? Contact us. We don’t always leave you smelling like a rose, but we will air things out for you.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.