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South Bend residents calling on city officials to help with sewage backup issue

The floods that hit Michiana in February are still causing headaches for residents and now, neighbors in the North Shore Triangle neighborhood in South Bend are speaking out after their homes were damaged by raw sewage and they say they’re not getting much help from the city after meeting with officials.

Karl Hopkins is one of those residents whose basement was completely covered in raw sewage back in February during the floods.

“I fought it all night for 16 hours. I personally bailed out hundreds of gallons of raw sewage and it came in for two more nights,” said Karl Hopkins, a resident of South Bend and the North Shore Triangle neighborhood.

He says this is the second time he’s dealt with raw sewage backup after the floods in 2016, even after he had a backwater valve installed to prevent it from happening again.

“When that thing still fails in February 2018, we had 6 inches of raw sewage,” said Hopkins.

And he’s not the only one. Hopkins says he and neighbors, who were having the same issues, asked city officials why this keeps happening.

“The city strongly claims that we have a true separation of the sewer system from the storm water system. Based off of the 10 years I’ve been living in this house and the events that happened in 2016 as well as February 2018, I really disagree. We’re dealing with a true infrastructure problem in the Northshore triangle,” said Hopkins.

We reached out to the Public Works Department, but their offices were closed Sunday.

According to this article on the city of South Bend’s website, the 2016 City Sewer Separation project is supposed to separate storm water and sanitary sewer lines across South Bend and the city ensured that all sewage would reach the water treatment plant regardless of the weather.

“We get 6 to 8 inches and we are back flowing,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins and several other neighbors sat down with public health and Public Works officials Friday to help come up with a plan on how to fix the problem.

“We came away from the meeting… strong sense of betrayal. I work for the city of South Bend as a firefighter. I just can’t believe we’re on the same team,” said Hopkins.

He says he and his neighbors are becoming impatient.

“I want from the city a plan of action I want them to admit to everyone that we do have a sewer problem, that we’re going to fix it,” said Hopkins.

A community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at the Driscoll Auditorium at Holy Cross College. The meeting is at 6 p.m. with Public Works officials and the Emergency Management team.

Stick with ABC 57 news for our coverage on the meeting.

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