A woman has told how her family home has flooded with SEWAGE 17 times in two years – but she can’t move or get it fixed.
Mum-of-three Vickie Thomas, 36, had no idea drainage was a problem before she moved into the £110,000 three-bed home in 2018.
But within weeks her home was filled with raw sewage, food waste, human faeces and dead rats.
Since then, sewage has flooded her home 17 times, causing £10,000 worth of damage and even giving her a potentially fatal bacterial blood infection.
The flooding happens when the street’s sewage pipes get full, so instead of her waste draining away, it bursts through the lowest point in the pipes – into Vickie’s kitchen and lounge.
She claims Severn Trent has found a solution – but on January 13 told her they don’t have the budget to make the repairs.
On 20 January, the house flooded for the seventeenth time.
Meanwhile Vickie can’t sell her house in Pontesbury, Shropshire, because of the problem – but can’t get insurance because her premium is too high, she said.
The senior residential care worker said: “There’s been toilet roll, actual faeces, tampons and food waste like chicken, carrots and sweetcorn.
“We did have a dead rat brought in last year.
“There hasn’t got to be rain, but it doesn’t help – we have flooded on a dry summers day.
“I will phone Severn Trent when the flooding starts but sometimes it’s 36 hours until someone shows up.
“They did fit a non-return valve on the front of house but there is no holding capacity.
“Once it’s full and the valve is shut everything is backed up until the sewage gets to the gullies under the kitchen window and under a tile in the lounge, and then comes through there.
“Once everything is backed up and it’s flooded outside it starts to comes in through the door.
“After the first flood we got rid of all the carpets because there was no point- it’s purely tile now.
“I’ve spent a lot of money on huge 6ft by 6ft rugs but on the occasions it has caught us off guard it destroyed them.”
Vickie said the previous owner only reported the flooding to Severn Trent twice which wasn’t enough for it to be flagged before she bought it and moved in August 2018.
The first flood happened in September 2018 – and they suffered a flood in eight out of the twelve months of 2019.
In October 2019 the local village fire brigade came out to help with a flood, but their pumps were not strong enough, so they had to clear the house of 2ft of water with buckets.
Vickie and her children Jaydon, 12, Rilon, ten and 11-week-old toddler Dalton, all had to be evacuated by the fire brigade when the flooding posed a fire risk in February last year.
The mum-of-three said: “I tried to rectify our drains at my own expense which cost just over £3,000.
“Replacing the fridge-freezer, coffee table, TV, sofas and school uniforms and shoes cost in excess of another £7,000.
“We used to go to my mum’s house when a flood happened at whatever time, which was just two minutes away, but I lost my mum to COVID in April so we no longer have that safe house.”
After the eleventh flood in February last year, Vickie developed “horrendous” flu-like symptoms and went to the doctor and was diagnosed with leptospirosis.
She said: “The skin across my forehead was going tight and cracking, so I went to doctors thinking it was flu, but she said it reminded her of an illness of someone who’d worked with sewage and had contact with rats, but that I wouldn’t have contact with that.
“I said, funnily enough, four days ago the house had flooded, and it turned out it was the repercussions of that- I had leptospirosis, an infection in my blood.”
Vickie was given a strong course of antibiotics and some products to bathe her skin with, but her house flooded again as she was recovering.
She said: “I had to keep my skin moisturised and hydrated, but while I was ill with it the pipe work became full to capacity again and the valve on the main road had locked itself shut.
“So we flooded once again and I had sickness to do with the disease but couldn’t flush toilets, so it had nowhere to go.
“The doctors were telling me to wash my skin with special stuff, but I couldn’t have a bath because I couldn’t drain it.”
The water that enters Vickie’s home is raw sewage from sewer pipes because the pipe work attached to her house isn’t fit for use, she said.
The sewage is meant to stay in the pipes underneath Vickie’s hallway and meet the main pipe to the sewage facility, outside her home.
But she said because she lives at the end of the road, when the outside main pipe reaches full capacity, her waste can’t flow into the main pipe.
Instead it backs up, and bursts, and the lowest exit point for the sewage is underneath her kitchen window she claims.
Severn Trent fitted a non-return valve to stop the waste flowing back up the pipes that are connected to her house.
But she said it doesn’t have a holding chamber to hold the waste if the valve is unable to open due to high levels in the main pipe.
An alternative solution would be to reduce the amount of homes feeding into the pipes which Vickie’s house uses, to reduce the pressure on it.
The neighbours agreed to have their entire drive dug up to divert their septic tank from emptying into Vickie’s system, and it was organised for November 2020, she said.
But after many months of no shows, it wasn’t until January 13 Severn Trent finally confirmed they didn’t have the budget to complete the work, she claims.
Vickie has bought her own £120 Wet and Dry Vac so she can suck up all the debris, including the faeces, herself.
The severe flooding has cost her over £10,000 to replace furniture and electrical goods, remove all carpets, and by trying and rectify the problem herself.
The frustrated care worker wants to move out, but believes that the house could never be sold after a surveyor checks it out.
“I’ve even offered for Severn Trent to buy the house off me, to stop the headache that I’m potentially giving them, but they refused,” she said.
“Because the person who lived there before constantly claimed the damage on contents insurance, I just can’t get any- the only company that’s offered it to me wanted nearly £8,500 a year!
“Severn Trent have advised us to ask neighbours to stop using the toilet or draining any water when things get full or it starts to rain.
“Once the drains are full to capacity we can’t use anything in the house, and obviously with two children and an 11-week-old baby that is not possible.”
A Severn Trent spokesperson said they had reports of six flooding incidents and had not advised customers not to use facilities.
They added: “We completely understand how devastating experiencing any type of flooding can be, and we’re extremely sorry for the issues and any distress caused.
“We want to assure Ms Thomas that we’re continuing to carefully review all options to find an effective, long term solution to the problem.
“We’ve already carried out extensive work at her home, including installing a number of non-return valves, flood doors and new chambers to help protect her and her neighbours, and we’ll be looking to carry out more work where possible to further reduce the risk of flooding.
“We’ll continue to work closely with Ms Thomas, and will keep her fully updated as we work towards a solution to this complex issue.”