October 25, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
51°F
test

City sewer backup in family’s basement a costly, smelly mess

LORAIN — Upon walking into Jeremy and Tabitha Fraysier’s home on Amherst Avenue, one is immediately struck by the overpowering fragrance of scented candles.

The candles are the couple’s only defense against a more noxious odor seeping from their basement: During Sunday’s rain and snow melt, the couple discovered their basement had flooded with more than 2 inches of raw sewage because the city’s 8-inch sewer line was clogged with grease.

Tabitha Fraysier, a medical assistant, said when she went down about 10:30 p.m. to do the laundry she initially thought it was just floodwater until she realized, “There were logs.”

While her euphemism reflects the sense of humor the couple has managed to maintain, their ordeal was anything but funny.

“We waited five hours for a plumber to come,” Jeremy Fraysier said. He came home from his job as a department manager at Lowe’s in Elyria after his wife called him, and they immediately began seeking help.

They called Roto-Rooter. An employee came out to their house but would not put his machine in the water and left. They called other plumbers. A plumber came around 3:30 a.m. and suggested it was a problem with the city’s line. That plumber left them with a $150 bill and sewage still in their basement.

The Fire Department had to shut off the home’s gas because the water threatened to damage the boiler and furnace, creating the threat of an electrical fire. They called the city at 5 a.m., and a city sanitation employee came out and the water finally drained.

“We didn’t sleep. We were bundled up with blankets because it was so cold,” Tabitha Fraysier said. Once the water receded, the couple realized that almost everything in the basement had to be tossed out after being coated in a fine layer of feces.

The basement still smells even though the couple has been scrubbing it down with bleach.

The couple sent their 15-year-old daughter to live with her grandmother until the stench abates. “She has to go to school every day. She doesn’t need the stress,” Tabitha said.

In the nine years the couple has lived in their home, the basement has flooded before, but never with sewage.

“No one ever suggested it could be a problem with the city,” Jeremy Fraysier said.

Utilities Director Corey Timko confirmed it was a clogged sewer line that likely caused the sewage to flow into the home.

Timko said the Fraysiers were the only ones who suffered sewage flooding during Sunday’s rain and theirs may have been a problem with their lateral line, the pipe that hooks their plumbing to the city’s line.

“There are a lot of trees on their property,” Timko said, and roots may have compromised the plumbing. City crews will put a camera down the line to determine if that was a contributing factor.

According to Timko, there is a process in place at the city’s Law Department for reviewing such damage claims.

“They determine if something should be paid, they determine what the compensation should be,” he said of the law department.

Tabitha Fraysier said she spoke on the phone with Mayor Tony Krasienko. “He seemed very sincere,” she said of Krasienko, whom she said apologized.

“No one offered us help,” she said, and she’s now worried about bacteria. As the couple continues cleaning up, they wonder. “Will this happen again?” Tabitha Fraysier said.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at 329-7144 or kbushinski@chroniclet.com.