GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) - Stanley Steamer crews have gotten at least a dozen calls on Grand Island this week for basements flooded with exactly what you don't want to flood your house.
Technician Jessie Johnson said, "It's referred to as a category "black water" for sewage and it was wall-to-wall. So when we first got down here we started at the stairs and actually started cleaning our way in rather than dragging the hoses and things like that through it."
Lynn Wagner says her basement hasn't flooded in the 27 years she's lived along Whitehaven Road, but that changed two weeks ago when a 30-inch sewer line around the corner collapsed, and the town had to bring in two smaller lines with a pump to for the neighborhood sewage
But the pump being used wasn't powerful enough. When three quarters of an inch of rain fell Monday night, in came the sewage.
Decades of Wagner's photo albums are now soaked in sewage.
"They're pictures of your entire life and it's very disconcerting," she said. "The house is unlivable. The methane gas from the sewage. I am homeless, and so is my neighbor, we are homeless now. It is uninhabitable."
And it gets worse. After Monday night's flood, she called in Stanley Steamers to clean. Then Tuesday night, another half inch of rain caused her basement to flood again, and so did her neighbor's basement and the Baptist Church around the corner.
Nancy Samrany said, "The last two days have been a complete nightmare and I feel homeless. Her and I are both widows. It's even into my second floor, and my bathtub in my living area. It is just very frustrating because the town, while they seem to want to be sympathetic, they are not doing anything enough for us."
What's the town doing about this?
Grand Island Engineer John Whitney says he'll double the discharge line and bring in larger pumps at that broken sewage line.
"Those pumps will be here, being delivered tomorrow morning and be online tomorrow," Whitney assured. "A larger pump will give me much more capacity, and we are actually doubling the discharge line out to the manhole that we are discharging into, further north. So we should have a great amount of increased capacity."
He says he hopes to have that 30-inch sewer line under Whitehaven Road fixed by the end of next week, though it could mean shutting down traffic along the roadway for a "day or two." Whitney says the 35-year-old sewer lines collapsed as a result of what many call "swamp gas" - or hydrogen sulfide.
In the meantime, residents are hoping for no more heavy rains.
Whitney could not say if the town would be responsible for damage to residents' basements and referred News 4 to the town attorney. We could not get a clear answer.
News 4 reached out to the town supervisor, but our calls were not returned. However, her secretary assured us that town officials are taking a hard look at what the town can do for these residents.
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