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06/18/03 - Gresham

Flooded Septic Tank Sends Sewage into House

Over the last nine days, much of southern Smith County has received more than a foot of rain. Residents of the Stoney Glenn Addition in Gresham say the county hasn't done enough to improve drainage problems in the area. And when this week's flash floods backed up into one woman's home, she discovered raw sewage was mixed in with the murky waters.

On Wednesday, fans roared in Jan Tomlinson's living room. She was trying to make sure the problems she's had so far this week don't get any worse.

It started when the water rushing through her neighborhood ended up inside her home. "There was water about 6 inches in the house. The furniture was all pulled back. There was water in the driveway. Just, water everywhere."

All of the water that wound up in the Tomlinson home started further up the street. Watermarks on a fence up hill from Jan is about two and a half to three inches deep. That flooded out a septic tank in the backyard of the home, which meant that raw sewage was flowing down stream into Jan Tomlinson's home. "When you know that you have somebody else's sewer running through your house, it's pretty discouraging."

Tto make matter's worse, Jjan can't get flood insurance on the home. "I had a mold claim in San Antonio, and my insurance company would not let me have water damage coverage for a year. My year is up next week."

The county has known this neighborhood has a drainage problem. Overgrown ditches and fences act as dams, forcing the flood through Jan's home. "I'm pretty angry. I think they knew it, and they were aware of it, and they had time to address it and it affects a lot of people when they don't take care of their business."

County Commissioner Sharon Emmert says Smith County is working on the problem. But, she says she needs permission from all the residents on the road for easements to build drainage ditches before Tomlinson's home can be spared from future floods.

Jan put up sandbags late Tuesday to try to stop any further flooding. But, she hopes she won't have to put the bags to the test.

Stephen Parr, reporting.

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