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City of Bowie Emergency Response Leaves Family Stranded


Please forgive me, Crofton, but I’m going to use this medium to describe a situation in the City of Bowie right now.  Their lack of response to a huge sewer back-up in my son’s home on Kinderbrook Lane in Bowie, Maryland, is an absolute failure in city government.  I’m hoping that exposing this situation might encourage the city to make a greater effort to mitigate damages for Tim and his family – sooner rather than later.

To make a long story short, sewer blockage under a Bowie city street caused Tim’s house to literally bleed raw sewage – through the walls and floors, out of all the plumbing fixtures and even between the slab and structure on the exterior.  Mom and the kids evacuated immediately to a hotel, with the clothes on their backs, and Dad stayed behind to deal with plumbers and the City of Bowie Public Works Department for the next 24 hours.

City of Bowie Risk Manager tallks with Tim on site during blockage investigationI’ll spare you the details and gross photos, but suffice it to say that sewage which was backed up in the pipes, walls and flooring of the house literally gushed out for ten minutes, when city workers relieved the pressure (not promptly when the problem occurred, mind you, but after business hours began the next day).  They determined, and verified through a camera in the line, that the blockage occurred on City of Bowie property under the street. 

The City of Bowie risk management team is dragging their feet more than 24 hours later, however, even though their representative was on site as the Public Works Department worked to relieve the problem (photo to the right) more than 24 hours earlier.

While State Farm Insurance responded promptly, arranging temporary housing for this family of five in a 2–room suite and helping them purchase new clothes and shoes, the City of Bowie has not yet (24 hours later) authorized professionals to begin mitigating damage within the house.  Two Service Master trucks literally sit in the driveway (2 p.m., 4/18/08) waiting for an okay from the City of Bowie to begin their salvage operation.  Meanwhile, this bio-hazard further infects the property and its contents each hour that passes.

Again, I apologize to my Crofton neighbors for digressing from the focus on Crofton, but I hope you understand my desire to see this matter brought to light.  My son and his family are probably not the only family failed by the City of Bowie, but this particular family has a mom/grandma who writes a local blog (and yes, the Bowie Blade has been contacted).  I shall update this periodically to report any improvement in the city’s response.

And I’ll be back on topic with my next post.   I promise.

RELATED POST:  When Your House Bleeds Sewage – Insurance and Warranty Provide Relief


UPDATE 4/21/08:  The City of Bowie has apparently relented and authorized a restoration company to go in and get to work.  Unfortunately, that work did not inlcude removal of the 40–year old tile squares because “they’re not porous.”  Of course, anyone who ever lived with tiles like these knows how the textured design and space between tiles holds dirt (and perhaps sewage???), not to mention the porous concrete underneath that surely absorbed sewage along the edges under the flooded walls before the tiles started at the edge of the room…

Restoration contractor put personal belonging outside in the weather - and left them.UPDATE 4/24/08:  Some of the affected wood flooring and wallboard have been removed, but no one has seen any sign of a contractor since Tuesday (today is Thursday). Unfortunately, the family’s computer equipment is among the items that appear to have been “thrown” into a box without any regard for protecting them from other things (including a chair) thrown on top; framed and matted pictures have been set outside, left unprotected, and now rained upon; dining chairs have been set on foam blocks to raise them above the floor level, but children’s toys such as a Fisher-Price kitchen and child’s table are not raised off the sewage-soaked floor. 

I wonder if lead-based paint was buried under more recent layers on the wallboard they cut…  if so, does that mean lead-based paint has been distributed throughout the house via air ducts?   So many questions.



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