Parts of Wethersfield are still dealing with flooding problems after Thursday night's rain. For one apartment complex, the water isn't the biggest problem.
Joseph Ferrigno and his Wethersfield neighbors woke early Friday morning to find a fountain of raw sewage, a mixture of fresh water and human waste, being forced out of his toilet, bathtub, and kitchen and bathroom sinks.
“Last night the tub was full and the toilet was gushing,” said Ferrigno. “Water kept on gushing and gushing.”
The Health Department says the landlord should install backwater valves.
The New York-based landlord says Wethersfield needs to fix the sewer pipes. But after waking up to a fountain of raw sewage pumping into their ground-floor apartments, these Hewitt Street residents just want answers.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Ferrigno said.
The flooding contaminated nearly everything in his ground-floor apartment on Hewitt Street. The carpet is soaked. Furniture is ruined. And a trail of human waste litters the floor.
The images are even more stomach-churning at his neighbors.
“The problem is really due to all the recent rains,” said Paul Hutcheon.
Hutcheon is the director at Central Connecticut’s Health District. He says the problem is a surcharge in the sewer lines. They’re full from all the rainfall this week, and it’s forcing that water – and sewage – back out of any available opening.
“We’ve had to replace furniture, clothing, all kinds of things,” said Michael McDowell. “Not to mention the disruption to his life and our lives as parents.”
McDowell’s son Justin, who has a disability, lives in one of the flooded units. He says this isn’t the first time they’ve dealt with this. Justin moved into this new apartment after a similar sewage backup in another Wethersfield apartment building owned by the same company.
The problem could also be seen on major roadways like Silas Deane Highway. Cars drove through the water unknowingly passing through diluted human waste.
“That’s a real dilemma because that can exist in a lot of different locations,” said Hutcheon.
The director also noted the MDC will work quickly to sanitize the streets using lime. He says sunshine and time are two of the best remedies.
But there is a possible solution.
“It makes me concerned that backflow valves have not been installed for these basement apartments,” said McDowell.
Paul Hutcheon responded, “This can be prevented to some degree by having a check valve or a back water valve installed on your sewer lines.”
Loria & Associates, the apartment management company in Astoria, Queens, says if this is the simple solution, they’re willing to do it. But they’re not convinced the burden lies completely on them because of the widespread nature of this issues.
The company also says they’re working to make the inconvenience as little as possible. They had a company deliver a waste palate to begin the cleanup and said PODS containers would arrive Monday so workers could remove contaminated furniture from units.
A representative we spoke with over the phone says ‘they’ve got the best interest of [the] tenants at heart.’
“Yeah, I’m optimistic because I like living here. I’ve been here 16 years, and I like living here. It’s a nice place,” said resident Joseph Ferrigno.