10 On Your Side getting answers on sewage backups in Norfolk public housing

Raw sewage recently backed up into a Norfolk woman's sink.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Norfolk mother emailed 10 On Your Side about a sewage backup in her apartment sink.

The mom says she contacted us after seeing our story last week on a sewage backup at the Young Terrace apartments.

10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings went out last Tuesday, and because of that story, the Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority sent a crew to clear the lines and is working with the city to make sure the problem doesn’t persist.

On Tuesday, February 27, Cummings went to Tidewater Gardens because a different person complained that she’s been dealing with a similar issue.

Pictures provided to 10 On Your Side show what filled the sink.

Raw sewage recently backed up into a Norfolk woman’s sink.

“I’ve had sewage in my sink, sewage on the floor, sewage ran down underneath my kitchen sink,” said Sonya Williams. “It was disgusting.”

Williams said she’s frustrated with the backups.

“It’s a health issue and even though you clean and you bleach it, you don’t know what the underlying health conditions can be from that,” she said.

Williams says on February 16, clear water backed up in the sink. Then there was another back up days later.

“I was told it was fixed, we’re going to send somebody out and then this past Sunday the raw sewage came back again, so that’s twice within a week,” she explained.

The mother of three says she has called the rental office nearly a dozen times.

She provided a picture that shows crews in the area after her call, but she wants a more permanent solution.

“I feel like if a resident who normally does not call the rental office for anything constantly calls with the same issue and you’re sending the same technician with the same results, it’s a bigger issue,” Williams said.

This was the emailed response to our inquiry from NRHA:

NRHA has been made aware of the backup in the unit of the person you referenced. We received an emergency maintenance request on Sunday, February 25 and sent NRHA on-call maintenance staff over that day to assess the situation. The service call was completed and all interior building lines were cleaned that same evening. The cause of the back-up was due to the tenant next door flushing (non-flushable) handi-wipes down the toilet that eventually got caught up on the cast iron pipes. The following day, Monday morning, we had the contractor on site cleaning all major sewer lines in this area and out on Charlotte Street where we have had other similar sewer related service calls.

Unfortunately, we have recurring issues such as this due to non-flushable items making their way down the drains. Items that range from bath toys to wash clothes to cooking grease. We’re working on custom literature to share with our residents to help educate those who may not know the impact these items have on the plumbing.

Jennifer W. Moore
Communications Manager

In a follow up email Moore told Cummings:

In addition, during the sewer line clean-out yesterday. Our contractor extracted very large clumps of grease from the pipes. To give you an idea, the pipes are 12” in diameter so these areas of grease build up are playing a very big role in the back up issues.

Jennifer W. Moore
Communications Manager

During the interview, Williams also told Cummings, “I just want the city to focus on improving the lives of the residents now versus what’s going to happen 5 or 6 years down the road.”

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch told Cummings via email: “We are focused on improving the lives of residents now.  We are implementing the People First initiative in this next budget cycle.”

Here’s a link to a Facebook page for the St. Paul’s area with more information.

Raw sewage recently backed up into a Norfolk woman’s sink.
Raw sewage recently backed up into a Norfolk woman’s sink.