Lindenhurst residents may be stuck with sewage costs

Lindenhurst may not reimburse residents for back-up into basements

Several Lindenhurst residents facing thousands of dollars in damages from a sewer backup into their homes may not receive any compensation from the village.

A sewer blockage at 5:30 p.m. Monday caused waste to back up into about six homes on Hazelwood Drive.

Among those hit was Jaime Rybak, whose son recently decided to move his bedroom into the basement. Rybak said the family home had about six inches of raw sewage filling their basement.

“I had just taken the dog out for a walk, and as soon as I opened the sliding door, it just smelled instantly,” she said. “I could see the carpet was already covered, and it was coming up through the drain in our furnace room.”

Todd Kurtz, another neighbor, said he had almost completed a project he began in December to finish his basement, and the nearly three inches of sewage caused him to have to remove almost all of his carpet, tiling, drywall and furniture.

“My son who's 3 has never had a chance to go into his playroom because it's almost all gone,” Kurtz said. “When I've invested so much money and time into a project, when I've taken four days off work to handle this for the safety of my family, I'm not being reimbursed — I'm almost being punished.”

Wes Walsh, public works director and village engineer, said the blockage was caused by debris and cleared by 9:30 that night by public works staffers.

The village has submitted an insurance claim, he said, but it is possible that the insurance company will determine the village is not responsible and deny the claim.

Both Kurtz and Rybak said their personal insurance companies will only cover $5,000 of the damage. Restoration and repair will exceed that by at least $15,000 to $20,000, they believe.

“I'm hoping (the village) will take some accountability,” Rybak said. “I know there are quite a few people who didn't have insurance, and no one wants that in their home.”

Village Administrator Matt Formica said while they wait on the insurance company's response, the village will be assisting residents by picking up damaged property for disposal on Friday.

“Obviously these are always unfortunate situations, and we certainly feel for their situation and understand their frustration, and we're going to to do everything we can to help them through the process and the cleanup,” Formica said.

Walsh said the village sent a verbal report to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency about residents saying they saw discharge from a manhole on the street.

Chris Kallis, environmental protection specialist of the Illinois EPA, confirmed the report, but said he heard only that a small amount of wastewater had covered the manhole rim, not the four to six inches Rybak and other residents indicated.

“The report I got was that there was a blockage but no actual release,” Kallis said. “I'll have to look into it.”

  Lindenhurst resident Todd Kurtz had to remove around 18 inches of drywall and the carpeting in his basement after sewage backed up into his Hazelwood Drive home last Monday. Residents may not be reimbursed by the village for their losses. Paul Valade/
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