MONTEZUMA, Iowa (KCCI) — Homeowners in Montezuma were still cleaning up Saturday after sewage flooded their basements a couple of weeks ago, saying it happened because of a major mistake during a city project.
At least 14 homes were affected, and neighbors told KCCI they are seeking accountability from City Council members, who did not return our calls as of Saturday evening.
About 7 inches of rain poured into a manhole under construction that was left uncovered, allowing the sewage to spew into basements.
“I went to the basement door, opened it and I just almost lost it right there,” Montezuma resident John McWilliams said. “It was just an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. We’re just thinking, ‘What are we going to do? Where do we start?’”
Neighbors, including McWilliams and LaNeva Gauley, said the city should pay for the tens of thousands of dollars of estimated damage caused to their homes.
“It’s a small community,” Gauley said. “It’s a good community. We’ve just had a terrible disaster happen.”
They said the city told them the contractor, Steele Excavating, is responsible for the mishap.
“The city owns the streets and they own the sewers, and they are at ground zero for liability,” Montezuma resident Donna Fraker said. “I just want the city to take responsibility, and we don’t know where to go after this except for to get a lawyer.”
Homeowners whose basements were flooded with sewage are left in limbo, but they said the disaster has brought the entire neighborhood together.
“It has brought a sense of unity to the neighborhood,” McWilliams said. “I just want it all to end.”
KCCI contacted the owner of Steele Excavating, but he declined to comment. The incident will be addressed Monday evening at a City Council meeting.