“It was not pleasant” — Allegan couple left cleaning up, paying after city drain overflows

Posted at 6:17 PM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 18:17:26-04

ALLEGAN, Mich. – A house, a baby and life in general are expensive enough. Add to the equation what happened to Heath and Amber Roberts back on Sept. 17, and the situation gets even messier.

That day, Amber went downstairs to do a load of laundry when she was hit with a disturbing sight: the city drain in their basement was overflowing, spilling wastewater and debris all over the couple’s finished basement.

“It was water, there was toilet paper, feces - little particles,” said Heath. “It was not pleasant.”

And it’s now proven to be expensive too. After pumping roughly 80 gallons of the wastewater out of the basement himself, Heath called ServPro to come handle the mess with a professional touch. When all was said and done, between cleanup costs and lost property, the Roberts were looking at an expense of nearly $5,000.

Because the drain belonged to the city of Allegan, their homeowner’s coverage through Cincinnati Insurance refused to foot the costs, directing the couple instead to the city public works department. They reached out, where they were hit with more bad news.

“You can file the claim,” Heath said the public works department told him, “we’ll have to sit down in a meeting with all our head people and we’ll go over it. Out of most cases - I’ll tell you bluntly that we deny most of these cases.”

ServPro indicated to the Roberts that they weren’t alone. Heath said the representative told them several other homes in the vicinity had also experienced backups and flooding, and were holding off on paying bills until they settled up with the city – an unlikely scenario as Allegan Public Works Director Aaron Haskin told FOX 17 on the phone today, indicating that most claims do in fact get denied.

Now, the Roberts and the others are left to deal with the mess themselves, and they’re worried not so much about the money, but more so about the dangerous repercussions the mess could have on them and on their 8 week old infant.

“I don’t see why I have to pay for it,” said Heath. “You told me this is your issue but, you’re not going pay for it?”

“All I ask is for just a little bit of help with fixing up my basement. Get it nice and neat - healthy for my baby to grow up nice and healthy. That’s all I ask.”