BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When it rains in Baltimore, residents like Vernadine Kimball fear raw sewage seeping into their homes.
Kimball is one of the thousands of people who reported sewage backups in their homes last year.
“The sewage came up through here in the tub,” Kimball said, pointing to the fixtures in her bathroom. “The smell is so horrible.”
The problems caught the attention of the Baltimore City Council, which held an investigative hearing in November.
“This is a public health crisis that residents in the City of Baltimore have been impacted by for literally decades,” Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett said.
Due to a federal consent decree, the city is closing all of the sewage outfalls into waterways, and that’s putting more pressure on pipes and more wastewater in homes.
Out of Baltimore’s $2 million annual budget last year, the city used less than $15,000 to reimburse residents.
“At one point do you go, ‘Man, why aren’t people calling us?'” Baltimore City Councilman Leon Pinkett said. “You should be the ones who are saying, ‘There’s something wrong with this.’ We’ve got thousands of backups and we’ve only got 100 applications. There’s something we’re not doing. It’s not the public’s fault.”
WJZ reached out to the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. They said they’re trying to get the word out that funds are available if you qualify.
Anyone who has been impacted can call 311 or file online within 24 hours of a sewage backup.