Families homeless after apartments condemned for sewage leak

By Gary Brode | gbrode@wcia.com

Published 07/02 2014 01:25PM

Updated 07/18 2014 10:28AM

CHAMPAIGN -- An area woman woke from a nap to find her apartment covered in sewage. Now, she wants answers. Families have nowhere to go after the city condemned their apartments. The complex on North Mattis is flooded. WCIA-3's Gary Brode describes their situation.

The stench is almost unbearable. That was in a home which was cleaned. Two apartments hadn't even been touched and now, their homes are ruined.

"Within ten minutes, it was flooded up to our ankles with raw sewage. I had to walk barefoot to carry my children out of this apartment complex."

Drea Riley's apartment has been cleaned twice since Monday, but it still looks like this.

"It's been very frustrating because they thought that it was going to be safe initially for us to just come in after they replaced the carpet and did some mopping up, but people came in to clean up my house in bio-hazard suits and I knew better."

She was right. It's much worst than management thought.

"At this point, we are condemning the four units that are down below, so the tenants cannot stay here until it's been properly cleaned and sanitized."

A SERVPRO worker inspected the apartments. He said it could take up to ten days to get everything up to code. That's a long time to not know where your family is going to live.

"I am worried about my children's health and I am worried about, I mean all of our things were ruined. We have nothing now."

Riley has three children; one is 6-weeks old. Management paid for the tenants to stay at a hotel for one night.

"These people are slumlords and obviously they don't care. That's what I get, that's my impression."

The city wasn't told about the problem until the next day. Inspector David Oliver says questions need to be answered.

"I'm not sure what's causing this sewage to backup here, but I think management has an obligation to find out what's causing this to happen as well as cleaning it up."

It's the uncertainty that has Riley and her family worried.

"Probably the most stressful thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. It's bad."

Riley and other tenants went in front of city council Tuesday night. She said they were very receptive. Her family even received a few donations.

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