Peoplestown neighbors took a picture of a sewer that appears to be spewing water in their neighborhood. They say this is just one problem that leads to neighborhood flooding during heavy rainstorms.
ATLANTA -- It's been a long week for neighbors in the Peoplestown community.
Twice, heavy rain has caused more than a dozen homes to flood this week. Neighbors say their basements and yards are filled with raw sewage, and they've been dealing with the problem for more than a decade.
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Saturday morning, about 30 residents demanded answers directly from the people in charge of fixing the problem. Representatives from the city's Watershed Management Department attended a community meeting to address concerns and field questions.
"You know it's nice that the city's here, but what's going to help us out is when this problem is resolved," said Staci Lynch, a Peoplestown resident who watched her basement flood Tuesday night.
Watershed Management spokesperson Janet Ward said crews inspected the area after this week's floods and found no evidence of sewage. They believe the flooding is caused by storm water runoff. And they plan to investigate what is causing the floods.
Neighbors say the mere sight and smell of the water leaves no doubt as to what it is.
"My basement smells like a sewer," said Garry Lamb. "I go outside and I can't sit on the porch between the mosquitoes and the smell, it's terrible."
"I understand there has been a lack of service," said Reginald Wells, Deputy Commissioner of Watershed Management. "But I'm here to assure you there will be no longer."
Wells said Watershed Management was there in the neighborhood addressing the problem before the news crews showed up. But he said they couldn't interact directly with Peoplestown residents because many have filed lawsuits against the city.
"There are a number of circumstances here, and we have to be respectful of the process," Wells said. "There is protocol in which we must proceed, but we did not run from this either way."
He promised the residents they would have an answer this time, but many interrupted him and said they'd heard it all before.
"It's helpful [meeting with city officials] in that it feels like a step, a very, very small step," said Peoplestown resident Michael Sink. He said he's lost three cars to the rising waters. "I still feel like it's the same rhetoric we're hearing over and over and over again."
Saturday afternoon Atlanta's Watershed Department issued an advisory stating:
"The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has made its cleaning contractor available at City expense to residents of the Peoplestown community whose homes were affected by flooding as a result of the recent storms.
The Department is conducting a comprehensive investigation to determine the causes of the flooding and identify solutions. Mayor Kasim Reed and Watershed Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina are committed to working with the community to find the best possible short- and long-term solutions."