A Sandersville woman says she hasn't been able to live in her house for over a year, and she says the city's sewer system is to blame. Madison Cavalchire went to city leaders to find out what they have to say about the reported contamination.
A house that sits on a street in Sandersville that Angela Thompson says doesn't feel like home.
"I lived here with my mother since 1992, but she passed in 2010," Thompson says.
Thompson hasn't lived on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in more than a year. She blames the city's sewer system.
"Due to the smell, the feces, the contamination, the mold," Thompson said.
Contamination that Thompson says came from a city sewage lift station that was just feet from her property line. When the lift used to overflow, she says waste and toilet paper flooded her yard.
"Water and sewage, in order to get it out to our waste treatment plant, which is located on the west side of town, it has to be pumped that way," said Sandersville Mayor James Andrews.
Andrews says that's why Sandersville has 18 lift stations throughout the city. He says it's the only way to move waste from lower areas.
"In some of that area, some of the older neighborhoods in town, they were having backup problems and overflow problems and stuff like that, so we naturally wanted to eliminate those problems," Andrews said.
So when Sandersville got more than $1.5 million from the state, they started upgrading the sewer system in March of 2016. Public Works Director Robert Eubanks says in August, they removed the lift station built in the 1950s that was located near Thompson's property.
"This would resolve the issues we had on the MLK area of town," Eubanks said.
But Thompson says the damage was already done.
"You could smell it," Thompson said. "It's a real strong odor."
Thompson says she can't live in the home anymore due to the contamination, so she doesn't know if the back-up problems have persisted. She went to the City of Sandersville for help with the existing damage. Eubanks says the city's public works, building, and health departments looked into the problem. After upgrading the sewer system, Eubanks says the city is not responsible.
"There's nothing that was related to the city that affected her property," Eubanks said.
Eubanks says the city filed an insurance claim to cover damages at Thompson's home. The insurance company hired a forensic environmental engineering company, S-E-A, to investigate Thompson's property.
"They denied the claim," Eubanks said. "They said the city was not at fault in any way, shape, or form."
S-E-A's report listed five conclusions that say the damage on Thompson's property was not caused by the old lift station, but the report also said S-E-A cannot rule out that sewage from the lift station has come onto the Thompson property in the past.
Eubanks and Andrews both say they believe some of the house damage was caused by a leaky roof and faulty construction.
"It's very emotional when you have to depend on someone else," Thompson said.
For now, Thompson's staying with family, and this door on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, remains closed.
"You know, I hate that she feels this way," Andrews said. "The home is really not suitable for someone to live in."
Mayor Andrews says since the sewer system upgrade, the city hasn't received any formal complaints other than Ms. Thompson's. He says if any resident is having plumbing problems, they can call the city and someone will come out and take a look.
13WMAZ did speak to some other residents on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue who said they have also experienced plumbing issues.