Family plagued by sewage problems

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 18, 2003

Sometimes we all have days when it feels like we’re taking more than our share of &uot;crap&uot; from the world.

But Betty and Gregory Simpson feel like they’re getting more than their share.

Betty Simpson said, &uot;We get everybody’s ‘crap.’ Really.&uot;

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Simpson isn’t exaggerating. Every time the sewage backs up, she gets a yard &045;&045; and sometimes a house &045;&045; full of human fecal material, sudsy dishwater and anything else that happens to go down the drains of her neighbors along Dallas County Road 943.

The smell is the least of their concerns. The Simpsons say the problem is causing numerous health and financial hazards.

Saturday night, it happened again.

At around 1 a.m. the Simpsons heard the telltale &uot;blub-blub,&uot; which they say heralds the coming of raw sewage into their home.

Left unchecked, the materials flow up from their tub and toilets, onto the floor, under the walls and into almost every room.

The Simpsons estimate it’s happened eight times in the last year and a half. They say they’re getting kind of used to it by now. But they still haven’t been able to get used to the smell.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. Gregory Simpson removed the caps from the sewage line in his front yard. Without taking this measure, he said, his home would have been flooded in no time.

At 2 a.m. they started making phone calls.

They called James Hale and Joe Thomas, both members of the Dallas County Water and Sewage Board. They called the Selma Police Department, the fire department, a plumber and even the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency.

And why not? The Simpsons say they consider it a bona fide emergency whenever raw sewage begins to back up into their home. They say you would, too, if it happened to you.

But this time, once again, their calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears. According to the Simpsons, they have been plagued by local bureaucracy. &uot;It’s like they don’t even know this street exists,&uot; Betty explained. &uot;It’s been ignored.&uot;

Thomas was out of town the night of the incident. When the Times-Journal contacted him by phone Sunday afternoon, he said, &uot;I’m getting ready to call now and see who was having a problem.&uot;

James Hale was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Mary Shagat, another member of the water board, said, &uot;I’m fixing to call a man that can fix it. If I could find her (Betty Simpson’s) telephone number I would call and tell her how to contact us day or night.&uot;

The Simpsons, though, are tired of waiting. They’ve contacted local attorney William Faile. &uot;I’ve contacted the water works. I’m hoping something can be resolved. It’s a terrible situation,&uot; he said.

He’s instructed the Simpsons to provide him with an estimate on the damage caused.

So far, the Simpsons estimate they’ve lost at least $1,100 in damaged carpet. They tried to dry it out, but it was so saturated in human waste they had to burn it.

They’ve also lost money on clothes and shoes. Anything left on the floor is prey to the random invasions.

Betty learned that the hard way. &uot;One night, I hopped out of bed, my feet stuck to the floor,&uot; she said.

The Simpsons said their children suffer from respiratory ailments, and they are afraid the sewage may be part of the problem. Gregory said they’re constantly using disinfectants and air fresheners to combat the odor problem. He said, &uot;(We’re) thinking we’re killing the odor, but we’re killing the children, really.&uot;

Betty suffers from a heart condition, and recently had surgery to clear a blocked artery. Not only is the constant nausea causing her chest pains, but she can’t eat the food required to take her medication much of the time. &uot;You just can’t bring yourself to eat anything,&uot; she said.

It’s so bad, in fact, that Betty said the police officer who visited early Sunday morning refused to leave his car, and suggested the Simpsons move.

The Simpsons aren’t the only ones with a problem. Their neighbor, Bruce Fincher, remembers when the water board would relieve the sewage pipes in his front yard. &uot;It used to bubble up under that tree. Mine came up through the tub.&uot;

According to the Simpsons, the water board told them once that lightning flipped a breaker on one of the sewage pump stations nearby, causing the back-flow. But they insist that doesn’t explain the six or seven times it’s happened before.

The Simpsons say that another time the water board contacted them and explained the problem was an old and obsolete pump station, installed in 1987.

The Simpsons aren’t sure what the problem is. They just want it fixed. Hopefully, with the help of Faile, they’ll be able to live a sewage-free life soon.

Until then, Betty said, &uot;There’s nothing else to do except go through the odors.&uot;