HOUSTON—A woman returned home to a sickening surprise in southwest Houston, and now she wants to know who’s responsible.
Autumn Downing says she returned home to what looked like an "explosion" of human waste.
The feces rose into her toilet, bathtub and even traveled into her closet and master bedroom. She described her master bedroom rug as saturated.
The photos she took are certainly sickening to look at. Downing says you don’t want to imagine the smell.
"The smell is what hit me first, it was just horrifying. It felt like I was literally in a septic tank," Downing said.
Downing has lived in her home near Alief for about three years and says she hasn’t had any issues prior to this.
"It was if I’d had a party of like 200 people just going to the bathroom in my bedroom," she said.
When she called the City of Houston about the sewage overflow, she says workers came out and told her it wasn’t their problem.
A public works spokesperson insisted the raw sewage was not from one of their lines. According to Alvin Wright, utility maintenance crews found that all of the city’s lines nearby are on flow.
He suggested that Downing might not have a cleanout valve.
The Martins, who live down the street, are skeptical. They said they’ve smelled something awful in the air.
"We need someone out here with some authority to figure out what is going on. Why is sewer coming up in people’s homes?" asked neighbor Pat Martin.
Some neighbors believe a construction site, less than a quarter of a mile away, is somehow connected to what they’re experiencing.
The city said the construction zone is a storm sewer project and not a sanitary sewer project.
That is little comfort to Downing.
"I had a plumber come. He ran a line. Nothing’s wrong with my line," she said. "I don’t claim to be a plumber or scientist but laws of physics, stuff doesn’t come out like that. It’s as if (it) had pushed out of the toilet."
Downing said the damage caused to her home is not covered by insurance. She worries that the overflow could happen again even if she pays out of pocket to fix her house.