Toilets overflown with sewage cause thousands of dollars in damage to homes

Toilets overflown with sewage cause thousands of dollars in damage to homes

MELROSE, Mass. — Residents in Melrose are blaming city workers for causing the overflow of raw sewage that caused thousands of dollars in damage in several homes.

Silvana Ortiz broke down in tears thinking about everything she's lost.

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

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Ortiz's neighbor recorded cellphone video Thursday morning after toilets began flooding in at least four homes on Brazil Street. The problem started with Ortiz noticed a pipe leaking outside of her home. She called the city and Melrose Department of Public Works crews went to work.

But minutes later, their toilets began spewing sewage.

"There was a blockage so they were trying to clear it, but in trying to clear it, they applied too much pressure and then it just went into our homes, back into our homes," said Ortiz.

The aftermath was not pretty. Boston 25 News watched cleanup crews carrying out soiled furniture and other filthy items.

"You can imagine it was disgusting, and just a devastating sight," said Ortiz.

Residents say they're very frustrated because they say they didn't see a serious response from the city until Friday morning, more than 24 hours after the toilets overflowed.

"We hadn't heard from anyone. We were here basically stranded," said Ortiz.

She says she didn't see much of a response until she reached out to local TV stations.

On Friday, Boston 25 News reporter Jason Law tried to get answers from a man we later identified as Melrose's Public Workers operations manager.

Peter Pietrantonio: "I got no comment." 
Jason Law: "The residents here say it's been a slow response, that they were left all day yesterday—"
Pietrantonio: "I got no comment." 
Law: "Can you just tell us what the situation is right now—"
Pietrantonio: "I've got no comment."
Law: "—What the latest is?"
Pietrantonio: "I've got no comment."

In a statement, the mayor said the city is working with residents on "emergency accommodations."

Kazz Shuman spent the day gutting his father's house. He said the city needs to step up and help them.

"From what I understand, they've claimed responsibility so I think they should be taking care of it," said Shuman.

No one knows how much the cleanup will cost, or how much they'll be reimbursed by the city. One woman told us she's already paid $3,000 out of her own pocket.