Raw Sewage Floods Three Homes: Who's Responsible?

"It's a nightmare," Marie Pierson, of Henderson said, trying to hold back tears.

The nightmare began late yesterday afternoon.

"I heard a gurgling noise in the bathroom," she said. "And I went to check, and there was black, tarry-looking stuff coming up in my commode."

And the bathtub, the sink, and the washing machine. Three houses on Elm Street were flooded with raw sewage at the same time: Pierson's house and her two next-door neighbor's homes. One house is vacant and had sewage running out the front door.

"I live here by myself," Pierson said. "The lady next door, she lives by herself, she has cancer, she's on oxygen all the time. Her family came and got her, took her to Longview. She can't stay in the house."

Pierson couldn't bear the stench either. She spent the night at a neighbor's house across the street. He opened up the valve in her yard to release the sewage pressure. The sewage stopped flowing into the house, but it shot up into the air from the valve outside.

"It nearly hit me in the face," he said.

The city was working on a clogged sewage line about a half-mile away from the three homes.

Stephen Acres, the director of Public Works in Henderson, says, "I feel like what happened there was a result of that."

However, the city is waiting for an investigation by its insurance company to determine if it will pay for the damages.

"That's really what hurts me, that they didn't come to us, knowing it's going to run downhill," Pierson said.

For now, Pierson is relying on neighbors, fellow church members, and sorority friends to help her clean up and pay for repair costs.

Julie Tam, reporting.