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Covington raw-sewage flood victims get a vent session but no answers at city commission meeting

Posted at 10:44 PM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 00:22:29-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Facing more than a dozen distraught Covingtonians whose homes flooded with backed-up sewage during the weekend’s storms, destroying their belongings, members of the city commission admitted they had no explanation yet.

Instead, Mayor Joe Meyer told the group he wanted the first 10 minutes of the Tuesday night meeting to be a listening session before regular business. The commission would hear from residents and then address the (recurring, yearslong) problem in a week’s time.

That wasn’t fast enough for Kime Eckman, who said she lost her life’s savings to the rising water in her basement and wants either the city or Sanitation District No. 1 to shoulder the blame.

“We pay our fees every month,” she said. “We pay our taxes. We pay the storm drainage fee on top of that. Why is it falling on the homeowner. That’s why I asked, ‘Where’s the liability?’ And I couldn’t get a straight answer.”

She’ll be at the meeting next week, she added. She wants more than a “blame game” by then.

Many of the affected homes were on Euclid Avenue, which neighbors said had experienced at least three similar incidents in living memory. All followed heavy rain, resident Mark Alexander said Sunday.

And all left people who lived there in a position described vividly by Coleman Stracener, who moved to Euclid fewer than two months ago: “I am ankle-deep in the absolute worst stuff you can imagine being ankle-deep in.”

Stracener said the flooding cost his family some of their most treasured possessions, among them Christmas ornaments and souvenirs from his late father-in-law’s time in the military. Many had still been sealed in plastic totes from their recent move, which briefly convinced him they might be OK after the storm.

When he stepped downstairs, he saw the totes had floated in more than 20 inches of water and tipped over, ruining the items inside.

“I’m five weeks in a home, still in a position of trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row, and I have sewage get into my house and those ducks are gone and there’s no answer,” he said, adding later: “I’m having to pull my life out of sewage and look at it.”

Like Eckman, Stracener said he wanted someone held accountable for the damage to his home and belongings. He attributed the mess to a conflict between the sewer district and the city government, which he accused of battling each other over ownership of local sewer lines and neglecting homeowners in the process.

The city will relax some restrictions on leaving garbage in front of one’s home so affected households don’t have to keep large, damaged items inside, according to Meyer. He asked neighbors to be patient until the commission’s next meeting.