Haz-Mat Workers Called in to Clean Up After Sewage Flooding Forces Family Out of Home

A Queens family is dealing with a flooding nightmare in their home after sewage backed up into their public housing apartment for hours through the night, flooding the building's community center below and trailing wastewater out of the building's entrance.

"Everything is flooded. Everything is wet. It sticks," said Ebony Holmes. "There's feces, there's cigarette butts, it's saltwater. It's disgusting."

Holmes lives in the Jamaica Houses development, and the New York City Housing Authority is her landlord. She called to report the problem Sunday night but she said the city did very little while the water continued to flow out of her toilet and bathtub all night, covering her clothing, her kids' clothing, rugs and furniture in human waste.

By the next morning it got so bad that the downstairs community center also flooded. Holmes reached out to her local councilman, and he called NBC 4 New York.

"No one should have to deal with that type of duration with water flooding, especially not sewage with feces floating all over the place," he said.

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Workers in haz-mat suits spent the evening Monday cleaning, and more than a dozen kids were locked out of their play space. Holmes has been temporarily moved to a new apartment, but only after getting the councilman involved.

"I called 311, the most they could do was direct me to homeless services in the Bronx," she said. "It feels real dehumanizing."

A spokeswoman for NYCHA said it has now stopped the flooding and is trying to figure out the root cause of the problem. It will also help Holmes get reimbursed for the things she lost.

The building is being put on a prevention plan, which will include a quarterly schedule for additional sewer pipe-cleaning to prevent future back-ups, the spokeswoman added.

But Holmes said the same thing happened to her a year ago and "this shouldn't have happened again."

"I already lost all my stuff last year," she said. "This shouldn't have happened again."

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