Simpsons keep the faith

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 8, 2003

Gregory and Betty Simpson finally have a little good news in their long-running battle with sewage problems at their Dallas County home.

The Simpson have a sewage problem. For unknown reasons, whenever it rains, and sometimes when it doesn’t, the Simpsons’ home fills with raw sewage, coming up the pipes, the toilet and the bathroom sink.

Since August 18, when their story first appeared in The Times-Journal, it’s happened twice more.

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An employee at the Dallas County Water board, who wished to remain anonymous, said the problem was an &uot;act of God&uot; and there was nothing the system could do about it.

Sewage has been a problem for the Simpsons almost since they moved into their home on County Road 943. About six months after they paid the $250 deposit and $250 for their first month’s rent, they woke to find a nightmare: gallons of raw sewage covering their floor.

Betty said the water came topped with an oily film, flecks of green matter, and the pungent scent of raw human waste.

The Simpsons say they’ve been pretty faithful about paying the sewage bill since the beginning, even after the problem started. But Betty admits they’re less than satisfied with the service.

They’ve called everyone they can think to call, the Selma City Council, the Dallas County Commission, the Health Department and even Montell Williams.

Water board officials say they’ve tried to fix the problem, but so far they haven’t been able to find the source of the blub-blub.

Friday, Joe Thomas, chairman of the Dallas County Water Board, got permission from the rest of the board to put the Simpsons in a local hotel and provide food for the family while the problem is ironed out.

He provided them with a $215 gift certificate to Shoney’s for their meals.

Betty said, &uot;We can go over and eat some food without having to smell stinky up our nose now.&uot;

Thomas said he has only been aware of the problem since Friday night, when the Simpsons were checked into the Residence Inn.

Thomas said he was in Mobile visiting with relatives, and only learned of the Simpsons’ problem for the first time when he returned on Friday.

Betty Simpson disagreed. She said she read a letter, part of which cited the problem she’d had with the sewage, to the board with Thomas in attendance back in June. The letter states, in part, &uot;There is not a house in this community that has not been effected by body waste in our yard.&uot;

Thomas said he didn’t know of any problem the Simpsons were having until Friday.

Thomas paid for the Simpsons to have two rooms in the Residence Inn, both costing the Dallas County Water board $440 plus tax. They’re paid up until Tuesday and the board meets Wednesday.

The Simpsons are glad they aren’t assaulted by a fecal stench any longer, and sleeping is a lot easier without worrying about the &uot;blub-blub&uot; noise that heralds another assault of vile fluids into their home.

Betty said, &uot;I think I’ve slept better the first night here than I have in years. There wasn’t no ‘blub-blub’ and no stinky odors.&uot;

Still, the Simpsons aren’t entirely happy with the reaction of the board.

According to Thomas, there is no definitive plan of action for this situation, but he does agree something has to be done. &uot;We have a meeting planned for Wednesday, and I’m going to try and find out why nobody knew anything about it,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;The board has authorized me to let them stay until we get this thing cleared up.&uot;

Thomas said he didn’t know why the Simpsons’ complaints over the last year and a half went unanswered, and he doesn’t remember the Simpsons ever complaining to him, despite Betty’s letter.

The board is supposed to have an answering service, to provide a forum for the complaints of their customers.

Thomas said he can’t figure out why it hasn’t worked. He said, &uot;I’m going to find out why that isn’t working. In the meantime, we’re going to take care of the Simpson family.&uot;

Even with their new accomadations &045; two double rooms at a local hotel &045; the Simpsons still have problems. Their two children, 16-year-old James and 15-year-old Elaine Griffin, both attend school on the other side of town: Southside and Tipton respectively. Buses only pick up students within the school district. The Simpsons have only one car &045; and it doesn’t run. Unless they can find out some way to get the kids to school, or the problem is solved conclusively within a few days, the children may have to transfer.

Said Gregory, &uot;This seems like a test of faith. The Lord is putting us through a bunch of tests.&uot;

Unlike the water board employee, however, they don’t believe the Lord is putting feces in their home.