Haines City family stuck cleaning up backup caused from city sewer pump

City wanted family to sign liability waiver

HAINES CITY, Fla. - A central Florida family is still trying to clean-up after a city-owned sewer lift station failed right outside their house.

Two weeks ago, the family discovered raw sewage headed in the wrong direction, settling in books, electronics, soaking up walls and floors.

"Everything was coming up where the toilet was," said Chad Balko who rented cleaning equipment to get his basement back in working order.

Balko said the city offered to pay up to $2,000 in damages, but only if they would sign a waiver saying they won't seek damages if it happens again.

"I was like this is not a possibility that I could even sign," he said. "It could happen again tomorrow."

In fact, it happened again more than a year ago and caused nearly $10,000 in damage. The city covered that bill because the pump malfunctioned.

This time they blamed lightning -- and the city's insurance won't cover it.

The Balkos live at the bottom of a hill and they are the last house connected to the sewer lift station. When it stops working, they are the unlucky ones to get a sewage backup.

ABC Action News went right to City Manager Jonathan Evans for an explanation.

After we contacted him, he said they did more research and blamed the jargon in the insurance policy for the mix up.

Evans then offered the Balko's a new deal with no waiver.

"In fact, the information that we originally provided you was not 100 percent accurate," he said.

"We don't want this to happen again, to anybody."

He said the pump in question is now a priority to get a monitoring device that will alert workers if it shuts down.

The Balkos just hope the second time is the last time they find sewage floating in their basement.

"I feel hurt and disappointed because we count on the city to provide for us for the services that we pay for and they haven't been able to really do that," Laura Balko said.

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