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Cleanup for sewage-flooded homes will cost thousands of dollars

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Posted at 7:16 PM, Mar 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-18 21:03:46-04

By Caroline Connolly, Reporter.

SALT LAKE CITY --  In the wake of floods of sewage in Sugar House homes, homeowners are cleaning up the mess and dealing with the costs involved with returning their homes to normal.

"It's pretty overwhelming. We haven't been in our home since Saturday," said Cynthia Walkenhorst, whose home was filled with about 15 inches of sewage over the weekend.

City officials said the backup was caused by a tree root that had grown into the sewage pipe and blocked passage.

Regulations require the city to inspect the pipe every three years. Their last review of the pipe was in October 2011, and at that time, officials said no problem was visible.

Walkenhorst said, "It is really frustrating to know that you did nothing. Again, if our pipes would've backed up, it would've been our fault."

The city will foot the bill for the initial cleanup, which is being performed by Utah Disaster Kleenup. Company staff estimate the mess caused about $2,000 to $5,000 in damages to each home. In order to clean up the homes, crews had to remove carpets and furniture, and in some cases, take out pieces of drywall that came in contact with the sewage.

It is unclear how much cost the families will incur for replacing and repairing what is left.

Ryan Broadhead, Salt Lake City’s Waste Water Collections Manager, said, "Any other thing that the homeowners have questions with, or might have some issues with, they work through our claims process with our risk management department."

In addition to the cost of the cleanup, homeowners may pay in other ways when it comes time to selling their home in the future. They will be required to fill out a disclosure form detailing the incident, which could impact the sale.

"Hopefully, it's repaired and taken care of properly, but some buyers may not even decide to look at the property based on something like that, depending on how extreme the damages were or whatever," said Geneva Tanner, a real estate agent with Century 21.

The second phase of cleanup entails replacing carpets and making necessary repairs to get the home back to the state it was in before the backup. The cost for that phase will be determined when an adjustment firm visits the neighborhood and surveys each home.

Related story:
Sewage overflows in several Sugar House homes