No one takes blame for MacDill sergeant's dream home flooded by - WFLA News Channel 8

No one takes blame for MacDill sergeant's dream home flooded by sewage

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Air Force Tech Sgt. Telisha Edwards Air Force Tech Sgt. Telisha Edwards
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Air Force Tech Sgt. Telisha Edwards thought negotiating the final details of her Tampa home closing from the war zone in Afghanistan was the tough part of being a home buyer.

She was wrong.

Last Sunday, two weeks after moving into her brand new dream home with her fiance, 5-year-old daughter and pet Chihuahua ZhuZhu, raw sewage began bubbling up from her shower drain, flooding two bedrooms and her closet.

"I can't describe it," said Edwards. "I honestly can't describe it."

The sewage was bad enough, but getting someone to accept responsibility for the damage has been even worse.

"I'm not happy with the runaround I'm getting," said Edwards.

The City of Tampa responded to the problem Monday and by Wednesday had sent crews to excavate and repair a faulty connection in the sewer pipe between her house and the main line running down South Trask Street in her Ashton Woods Homes neighborhood near MacDill Air Force Base.

The city also hired a cleanup company to take some emergency measures inside Edwards house to remove the soppy sewage from the carpets in her bedrooms and closet.

Gayle Guidash, an environmental health expect from the Florida Department of Health said fecal contamination from raw sewage in a home is a serious matter.

"It can cause disease if it comes in contact with your mouth or your eyes or any kind of cuts or abrasions," said Guidash.

But so far the city hasn't taken responsibility for causing the backup and neither has the builder, Ashton Woods Homes.

"No one's taking ownership and no one's taking blame for it," said Edwards.

No one from Atlanta-based Ashton Woods Homes, which bills itself as the "Number 1 Most Trusted Homebuilder in America" on its website, will comment about the problem.

"It's our company policy we cannot talk to you guys," said company representative Jeremy Brongo during a visit to Edwards' home Thursday. "You can speak to Ms. Edwards," Brongo said.

Edwards said Brongo and his project manager Chris Bernhardt agreed to replace her sewage-soaked carpet, but won't discuss replacing the drywall where the sewage passed under the walls from room to room.

Guidash credited the city for taking initial steps to dry the carpeting but said it is typical procedure to also remove saturated drywall in this kind of situation.

"If you've seen any pictures from any disaster area they usually take the drywall off because it won't just be a problem with the bacteria and viruses from the sewage," said Guidash. "You might have some mold growing after awhile."

The cleanup company hired by the city has recommended removal of the soaked drywall but neither the city nor Ashton Woods Homes is willing to tackle that problem until they figure out who's to blame.

The builder says the sewage backup is the city's responsibility because the faulty sewer line connection was located just on the street side of the cleanout pipe, and not on the home side where the builder recently made a city-inspected connection with Edwards' home back on Aug. 21.

Records indicate that city inspector Kellie Miller  "disapproved" the connection on Aug. 21 because the inspection site was "under water."

City records indicate that Miller returned a day later and approved it on Aug. 22. The faulty connection is located about a foot away from the connection Miller approved.

Edwards said that Brongo told her the neighborhood's main sewer infrastructure connecting dozens of relatively new homes was installed by Ashton Woods Homes about three years ago and carried a one year warranty, which has expired.

Edwards said she is reluctant to file a homeowner's insurance claim because she will have to pay thousands for the deductible. She considers the defective sewer connection something her new home warranty should cover.

Meanwhile Edwards says her family doesn't feel comfortable living in the contaminated home until all of the contamination is gone and the house is restored to new condition.

She still hasn't unpacked many of her boxes from the family's recent move to Tampa and said she can't even think about putting up a Christmas tree in her "dream" house.

"I'm just overwhelmed.This is supposed to be one of the happiest times," said Edwards."I plan to retire here."

Eight On Your Side will broadcast a special report on Edwards' troubles Friday at 6.
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