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Couple says city project caused sewage backup: ‘We can’t use the toilet’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Living in a home with no usable plumbing has been a huge inconvenience for Sara Noble, her wife and three dogs after raw sewage backed up in their home, flooding their basement twice in the past three days.

“We haven't run water in the house. We can't do dishes or take a bath. We can’t use the toilet,” Noble explained.

"We can’t use the toilet.”

"We can’t use the toilet.”

She said they were forced to throw out many of their household items. They had to clean solid waste that backed up in their toilet and in their downstairs bathroom.

The raw sewage also flooded the floor in her wife’s home office. Since they can’t use the plumbing, Noble said they have had to set up a makeshift toilet in their back yard.

“We’re using the bathroom camping style,” Noble said.

City work crews along Forest Hill Avenue.

City work crews along Forest Hill Avenue.

The couple is convinced the work outside of their Forest Hill Avenue home caused the problem. They’ve tried to track down who hired contractors to dig up the area in front of their home, but have had no luck.

A city utilities spokesperson said they don’t know who hired the contractors to do the work. WTVR CBS 6 News also contacted VDOT to see if they had work going on last week in that area. A spokesperson there said no. We also reached out to Richmond’s Public Works department to see if they hired the contractors. We are still waiting to hear back from them.

When sewage flooded Noble’s home, she says they called 311 and a city utilities crew responded.

Spokesperson Angela Fountain released this statement:

“DPU contractors went to the address on November 15th, 2016 at approximately 3:30 pm and inserted a camera into the sewer cleanout on the city side of the property line up to the property line and discovered that there was nothing impeding flows in the line and no blockage was observed. We have offered to show this video footage to the plumber of the resident. DPU is not responsible for damage to the homeowner side of the utility line. The sewer line was not damaged and therefore no repairs or replacements were made.”

Noble said even after DPU checked it out, the sewage backup happened again and her plumber checked the line with a camera.

“They snaked our line to the city property," Noble said. "They found no blockage on our end and when they went into the city’s line there was a block and the camera couldn’t get through any further."

Now the couple just wants help getting to the bottom of this smelly problem, so they can get back to their lives.