Aging pipes to blame for sewage overflow in Melrose, review shows

Aging pipes to blame for sewage overflow in Melrose, review shows

MELROSE, Mass. — Poor city pipes are to blame for backing up and spilling sewage into homes on Brazil Street in Melrose, according to an engineering company's review.

The residents say the city is to blame for destroying their houses.

The video taken by frantic homeowners will make you cringe, and Silvana Ortiz broke down in tears thinking about everything she's lost.

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"It’s just really sad when you think of the sentimental things you really can’t salvage," she said. "That sucks."

Four houses on Brazil Street were flooded with feces. Three weeks later, the yards are growing weeds.

The health department has only determined one house is safe to move back into. The other three still need work, which is something the owners will have to pay for until they can be reimbursed by the city.

"We’re really working to take care of them and do the best we can for them," Melrose Mayor Gail Infurna said.

She said the city has shelled out more than $50,000 to cover cleaning costs and hotel rooms for the families who lost their homes. But the mayor says Melrose can't keep footing the bill. On the city's website, she wrote, "the city cannot accept full responsibility for restoration work on these homes until our insurance company makes a determination. And once the health director has cleared a home for re-occupancy, we cannot justify continuing to put the residents up in hotels at the city's expense."

"Our hearts go out to everyone affected here," Deputy Mayor Robert Van Campen said. "Obviously we’re doing everything we can.”

He says, for now, the residents will have to file claims with the city and wait.

"There’s no effort to cut off financial support for anyone involved in this situation," Dep. Mayor Van Campen said. "This is now involved in a very complicated insurance claims process that we are trying to expedite.”

An outside engineering firm investigated and found a block in the city's hundred-year-old pipes caused a powerful surcharge to come flooding into the homes. The mayor says the department of public works is taking a look at the city's aging infrastructure, to make sure what happened in June doesn't happen again.