Valdosta Daily Times

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March 10, 2013

Meadowbrook residents dissatisfied with service

Sewer manhole overflowing at least twice a year

VALDOSTA — Chet Harrison has found used condoms and tampons in his back yard off Meadowbrook.

The refuse, tainted by raw sewage that spilled out of the manhole behind his property during recent flooding, is unacceptable, he said, and he has lost his patience with the City of Valdosta.

“My children haven’t been able to go outside!” said Harrison, the father of 11-year-old triplets.

City employees or volunteers, he couldn’t tell which, came to spread lime on areas of his yard affected by sewage, but the personnel left large parts of the property untreated, he said.

“We called them again, and it’s the same old song and dance,” he said. “They can’t send city employees into our yards. Come on, man! You were just there!”

Harrison was told by city officials not to worry, he said, because the fecal matter in his yard was not only human waste, but could have come from animals like owls, rabbits, armadillos and raccoons.

“At that point, I knew I was done,” Harrison said.

Gabe Fisher, Harrison’s neighbor a few houses down, has witnessed the manhole behind his property overflowing at least two or three times a year, and not always during flood events. Sometimes all it takes is a heavy rain.

“This isn’t the first time,” he said. “This isn’t the 10th time. Every time it rains, the whole sewer line leaks. They haven’t done anything.”

No one has come to spread lime in his yard, over which floodwaters advanced nearly to his foundation, he said, but he did watch someone haphazardly throwing lime around the manhole.

The manhole is surrounded by wet and dry gray solids and smells unpleasant. Some dry powdered lime appeared in patches on the massive spill Friday.

Fisher and Harrison are more worried about an elderly couple that also lives nearby. Bette Hodgins, the wife of W.R. Hodgins, came down with a severe illness and was hospitalized after attempting to clean up similar solid waste on her property when the floodwaters receded in 2009.

She attempted to clean the waste under her shed, and came down with fever and pneumonia, she said.

“It was the sickest I’ve been in my life,” Hodgins said. “The doctor said it was likely that I got it from breathing all that in.”

Hodgins watched personnel spreading lime on her property earlier in the week and she said most of it was lost in the high winds that day, and very little reached the ground. Those workers also reported the lime was “for the smell,” and not to disinfect anything. She and her husband remain wary of what the soil and the refuse may contain.

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