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'One frustrating week after another | Neighbors want answers months after damaging sewer backup

A backed up sewer line sent raw sewer water pouring into five basements. Each family says they have paid at least $8,000 out of pocket for clean up costs.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Months after a massive sewer line backup in Fairfax County, five families say they are at a standstill with the county. Peter Kiburi's home is one of five townhomes in a Fairfax Corner neighborhood impacted by flooding after the backup. 

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, raw sewer water poured into all five basements. One by one, the residents realized what was happening.  

"I run down to the basement and before I could walk down, splash. I'm covered ankle up in sewage water," said Justyn Little. 

Little's next-door neighbor, Jaha Zakhidov, rushed home to check his own basement. 

"It was this big hole and all this water was coming into the house," he said. 

On top of the flooding, the homes were quickly consumed with the smell of raw sewage. 

"It's honestly not anything you'd wish upon anyone," said Kiburi. 

According to the neighbors, Fairfax County crews came out the night the backup happened to repair the sewer line and investigate the cause. Meanwhile, the homeowners brought out the first water mitigation company available. 

"The floors were taken down, the walls were taken down, everything," said Zakhidov. 

The mitigation cost upwards of $8,000 per home, just to clean out the water. In November, each family filed a claim with the county, listing out the damages. They tell WUSA9 that county officials advised them to expect a resolution within 10 business days. 

According to the residents, three months later, they have barely had any communication with anyone from the county. 

"We haven’t had a single correspondence via email or via letter. It’s only two-minute phone calls," said Kiburi.

They say that lack of communication has left them footing the bill for restoration costs. 

"I already have the invoice for the mitigation company for $8,000. Putting more on that would be too much for me," said Zakhidov. 

The few families who have moved forward with renovating their basements since the damage, have had to come out of pocket even more. 

We're talking $10,000 plus $20,000 and not to include any of the items that were damaged. That's over $30,000 just for our household alone. So it's no wonder the county is not trying to pay," said Tiffany Jones.

Credit: wusa9
This is how one resident's basement still looks 3 months after sewer water poured into his home.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Works confirmed that when multiple homes are involved, an investigation into the cause of the backup can take up to two weeks to complete. 

The Department of Public Works also told us that homeowners can use their contractor, Servpro, at no cost. However, the residents told WUSA9 it would have been hours before Servpro was able to respond, so they went with the company with the fastest response time. 

When homeowners choose a different contractor, they must submit those receipts as part of their claim to the Risk Management Division.

According to Public Works, their completed investigation into the backup has since been sent over to the Risk Management Division, which handles all claims and reimbursements. 

We asked for information on that division's protocols and why it has taken so long for residents to receive any financial help. WUSA9 has not yet received a response to those answers. 

These neighbors say as taxpayers, they are disappointed in how the county has handled this incident. 

"It’s been one frustrating week after another. We are no closer to getting this resolved than when the backup happened on November 9th," said Kiburi. 

Credit: WUSA9
Dry wall cut off after sewer water damage

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