Ben Newton, a Dublin resident and member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, awoke with a start at 1 a.m. on April 24 to discover raw sewage bubbling out of his toilets, shower and bathtub and flooding the inside of his home on Preston Lane.
“I immediately tried to squeegee it out to keep damage to a minimum, but the effort failed,” Newton said.
He ran outside to see if any of his neighbors were having the same problem and found out that one of them had already dialed 911 to report the issue.
Approximately two hours after the sewage started flowing, a city worker came out and relieved the pressure, but by then, the damage was done.
Newton said hundreds of gallons of sewage flowed into his home.
“We had a bamboo floor put in when we moved in. The water went underneath that floor and picked it up. We had a dining room set that’s antique and it has 10 chairs, a tall china cabinet, a sideboard and a liquor cabinet and all of those were floating on top when we picked the floor up. You could hear the clinking of the glasses as the water flowed underneath the floor, that’s how severe it was,” he said.
Newton called his insurance company and was told they would cover the damage and would send a restoration company to start mitigation, removal and cleanup.
Newton said that Dublin City Manager Nancy Wooldridge came to his house with an insurance form already filled out.
“She said that she would turn that in for me for a claim against the city’s insurance company. This claim was denied later that day,” Newton said. “The mitigation continued for one week and was almost completed when my insurance company stopped their support of me and informed me that they were going to investigate the situation further.”
The E-T attempted to reach Wooldridge for a comment by calling her office and her cell phone, but did not receive a response.
Newton stayed at a hotel for 10 days, but is now living back home, which is still in a deplorable state, he said.
Newton said he was not told of any sewage issues when he moved into his home in October 2016.
“I got no heads up from the city when I moved in. That’s the least they can do is warn their citizens. Their job is to protect our property as well as our lives and the city manager just did not do it. [Nancy Wooldridge] runs the water department and so it’s totally her fault,” he said.
Another Dublin resident who also lives on Preston Lane, Ron Swanson, had a similar experience.
At 2 a.m. the same morning, Swanson woke up to a gurgling sound and noticed water was backing up into his bathtub. He tried bucketing the waste outside but it started to overflow.
He received about an inch of water throughout his house and lost part of his flooring.
A public works employee told Swanson that he needed to purchase a blowback valve but the city didn’t know where he could purchase one.
He contacted his insurance company but was told the flooding in his house was not covered. He was also told the city insurance would not cover the damage either and that since the storm was the cause of the flooding, it was an “act of God.”
Swanson said when Wooldridge visited his home she told him that the city would pay for the damage.
“The city is doing absolutely nothing to alleviate the situation. The city hasn’t made an offer to compensate,” Swanson said. “The city is not talking to us. We’re in limbo until Ben can come up with a decent lawyer. I’m assuming (the city) isn't going to do anything.”
Newton and Swanson both want the public to be aware of the problem and for individuals to make sure they know exactly what their insurance covers.
“Actually, this is not for me. This is for the rest of the citizens that live in Dublin. This is not a revenge tactic. This is information that needs to go public to warn everybody else that this might happen to them,” Newton said.
“People need to be very aware of their insurance company because of this flooding problem,” Swanson said.