GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - The City of Gautier and its Public Works Department have been slapped with lawsuits over raw sewage problems in one neighborhood. According to a lawsuit filed by attorney Russell Gill, the city was negligent when it came to sewage maintenance, and that caused a big, expensive mess for his clients.
"It was the morning from hell," said John Albano.
Albano said he, his wife and daughter still have nightmares when they think back to what happened at their home on Bemis Avenue last year.
"We woke up on March 28, 2014, and found that our house was inundated with sewer water," said Albano.
Albano said raw sewage spilled into the home, ruining everything inside and his insurance would not cover the mess.
"It was awful. It was terrible. As a matter of fact, when the insurance man from Nationwide came to give me an estimate, he told me it was biohazard, stay out of that house," said Albano. "We are old people, and we didn't know what we are going to do. My wife has Parkinson's."
The homeowner claims back in 2007, Gautier was supposed to install a backflow preventer in the sewer line and also sent him a letter about it.
"I gave them permission. I got the signed papers. We got that, and they never did install it. I was here and never saw it," Albano said.
The Albanos' case is just one of three lawsuits against the city and Clearwater Solutions, LLC. Albano told me he is asking for more than $90,000 to make things right.
"What are we going to do? We used every bit of savings that we had to put in to try to get this house back," said Albano.
Gautier's City Manager, Samantha Abell, told WLOX News she could say very little about complaints and the allegations made about no preventer being installed.
"That was before my time. My understanding that was in 2007, and there's work orders and documentation. We are, of course, well aware of the lawsuits that are in the hands of our attorneys," Abell said.
Abell said the city has been working to prevent any future sewage and drainage woes on the street.
"What I can say is our service provider has made significant gains with videoing the lines in the area and excavating the sedimentation with a new drainage improvement plan," said Abell. We care very much about that neighborhood and making sure there is a resolution that is a permanent fix."
Clearwater Solutions' Regional Manager Brent Stauffer also addressed the lawsuits.
"We are aware of the situation, and that is one main reason why the city contracted with the company in 2012, and we are taking measures to prevent any future backups in the residents' homes. We are evaluating long term solutions," Stauffer said.
Albano hopes to reach a settlement soon.
"It wasn't my fault or my wife's fault or daughter's fault that sewer water entered my home. We thought that we are protected," said Albano.
His wife and daughter are included in the lawsuit against the city and ClearWater. Gill said negligence, breach of contract, strict liability and physical invasion are some of the alleged claims in the complaint.