Sewage leak floods St. James unit

Junior psychology major Melissa Matheys spent last Friday night watching TV in her St. James Apartment as Cambridge Property employees sloshed through the sewage-soaked carpeting in her home.

“Listening to the maintenance people walk around our apartment sounded like people walking through puddles outside,” she said. “All weekend our apartment smelled like toilet water.”

Last Friday evening around 7 p.m., all the first-floor apartments in St. James unit 824 began to flood with sewage, some worse than others.

“We knew something was wrong when my roommate came out of the bathroom and said there was water all over the floor,” Matheys said. “We definitely got it the worst.”

Matheys said Cambridge maintenance workers arrived to check the toilet, but when it wouldn’t unclog they had to check the sump pump.

“They had to check it and pull out whatever was blocking it, but in the process of that, our apartment got soaked,” she said. “That was around 6:30 or 7:30, and by the time we finally had a cleaning crew it was 1:30 a.m.”

After removing water from the carpet, Matheys said the maintenance crew left fans in the apartment.

“Those were there until Sunday,” she said. “But our place still smelled like toilet water.”

After returning to shampoo and suction the carpets again on Sunday, Matheys learned that Cambridge was going to replace the carpets.

“We got lucky because they were good about moving things out of our closets, so nothing was really ruined,” she said.

Senior advertising major Katie Nolan, Matheys’s neighbor, said she was concerned with the electric costs incurred from running the fans all weekend.

“Cambridge said they couldn’t really do anything about the electricity, but at least the carpets will be replaced,” she said. “Fortunately none of our stuff was ruined because we don’t have renter’s insurance.”

Cambridge Property Manager Jason Kesler said the cause of the leak was a backed up water sewer.

In that situation, Kesler said, it is beneficial for a tenant to have renter’s insurance because the complex would not be responsible for covering the cost of damaged personal items.

“But it hasn’t been brought to our attention that anything was seriously ruined,” he said.

Kesler said the company will continue to do follow-ups on the apartments.

“We are going to go in and replace the carpets in two of the apartments, and the other two should be fine,” he said.

As for the tenants’ electric bills, Kesler said covering the cost depends on the circumstances.

“That’s something we would discuss on a case by case situation,” he said.

Kesler said a backup like that has not happened in the past.

“The tenants are frustrated, of course, but with those things you never really know when it’s going to happen.”