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Neighbors want answers after basements flood with raw sewage

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Neighbors on Greenview Avenue say their basements flooded with raw sewage—again—after Tuesday’s storm. ABC 57 spoke with the Public Works department Thursday to find out why this keeps happening.

“You don’t know gross until you see a turd flop out over your hand,” said Jen Kapiszka, one neighbor whose house flooded.

“You have full on s*** coming out coming out into your home, and we’re pulling up carpet, and there’s crap shoved into the fibers,” she said.

Raw sewage flushed into Greenview Avenue neighbor Jen Kapiszka’s basement Tuesday night with the sudden storm South Bend saw.

There’s poop still smeared on their stairs.

“It was a little above our ankles at its highest point,” said Kapiszka.

This is the third time their basement has flooded since they bought it in April 2016.

“We’ve put a good amount of money into trying to finish up our basement, so it’s a decent living area, and now we’re living with the constant fear that all the hard work that we’ve done is going to get ruined yet again,” she said.

This time, damages are adding up to be at least $1,000.

“We pay insurance on our sewage lines. We do these things. Why don’t we have them? Why aren’t they functioning? And why are we having to deal with our neighbors’ excrement in our living spaces?” asked Kapiszka.

“When you get these major rain events, since it’s a combined sewer line, and all that rainwater is trying to go through the same pipe as the sanitary sewer, it can’t handle that, because it’s not big enough, and they get overwhelmed,” said Eric Horvath, the Executive Director for South Bend Public Works.

Horvath says it would be expensive to completely fix the problem, however.

“If we were to completely separate the sewers out, it would probably be about a billion and a half dollars, 1.5 billion dollars, and then you wouldn’t have that issue, but it’s not affordable,” he said.

He says they have come up with a solution neighbors can do: install a basement valve with the city’s help.

“They end up paying 50%. We pay 50%, but what it does is it keeps the sewage from coming back in the basement,” said Horvath.

Jen’s husband installed his own Wednesday.

She says she gets that the fix isn’t feasible, but she wishes the city would do more.

“It’s hard to feel as though you matter when you’re wading through poop,” said Kapiszka.

Here’s the application for the basement valve.

The city also wants everyone to make sure their downspouts are disconnected, because that too will minimize the problem.

Call Public Works by the end of 2017 to have the city come out and do it for free.

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