A mother and her 13-year-old son have been left up to their ankles in water overflowing from the toilet at their Lurgan Tarry home twice in the space of two months.
Denise McGibbon said she hasn’t slept properly since the first flooding incident and won’t rest until the source of the problem is addressed.
She said: “I haven’t slept from the last time it happened. That was about seven weeks ago.
“It all came in through our wee toilet at 5.30am. I was woken up by the dog barking. He sleeps under the stairs and the water had woken him.
“The water was up to my ankles. I rang the emergency service number at the Housing Executive. They told me it would be four hours before they could come out.
“I couldn’t watch my house go under. I had to get out. My brother-in-law and sister came down to try and stop it. The hall and the dining room was already destroyed. They used every towel and all the bedclothes and sheets in the house.
“It was 10.55am before the Housing Executive sent somebody down. They unblocked the drain and away they went.”
She continued: “The place was cleaned up but I always had it in the back of my mind it could happen again.
“Last Wednesday my son told me there was a puddle in the hall. I thought he was joking but there it was, water gushing out into the hall again.
“I called the emergency number again. Someone came out to unblock the drain and said straight away that it was a NI Water problem.
“Because my house is the lowest point any blockages end up coming out of my wee toilet.
“The first time there was bits of sewage, but the second time it was just water but the smell was foul.
“I’ve been on to the Housing Executive and NI Water but the only person who has been in contact with me is Declan McAlinden.”
Councillor McAlinden said: “It seems to be an NI Water problem with the main sewer blocked further up the line. Every time the water backs up it goes to the lowest point.
She’s totally devastated. She is trying to get the house tidied up for Christmas doesn’t know if it’s going to happen again.”
NI Water said: “Upon receipt of the complaint, our team investigated, and discovered a significant blockage in the system, caused by rags and dog waste. Blockages like this have the potential to cause very serious problems in the sewerage system. NI Water has cleared the blockage and the system is now running freely. We have undertaken to conduct a customer mail-drop in the area of our ‘Dirty Dozen’ leaflet, which provides further information on what should and should not be flushed, as well as to carry out a camera survey of the sewer to ensure that it has not been damaged.
“NI Water would take this opportunity to remind customers to dispose of inappropriate items in the bin, rather than in the sewers. Flushing of items like household wipes, sanitary towels, nappies, etc, are a very common cause of sewer blockages across Northern Ireland, and NI Water is literally fighting a daily battle to keep the sewers clear, at a cost of £2.5 million per year.
“We will never win this battle on our own, however. We need the support of the public to work with us to dispose of these items in the bin rather than down the sewer in order to keep our sewers running freely, as they should.”
A leaflet detailing NI Water’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ campaign can be found at http://www.niwater.com/information-leaflets