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Your Stories: sewage flooded couple's basement, they're left with bill

Updated: Wednesday, July 10 2013, 03:52 PM EDT

Henrietta, N.Y. --- The Mummerys have called Henrietta home for nearly 50 years and a letter they received recently has them upset with their town’s insurance company.  The insurance company informed them that the town was not liable and would not reimburse them for a sewage spill that flooded the Mummery's basement in November.

The Mummery's Campus Drive home is just feet away from a town sewer pump station and on the afternoon of November 12, 2011 their basement flooded with raw sewage.

"I'm on the phone with the operator on 911 and she's giving me a bad time because she says it's your responsibility to do your own sewer work and I said, lady, no way is this my problem!" Art Mummery recalled. 

The sewage spilled into the basement up to Mummery’s waist and overwhelmed not one, but two sump pumps.  After hours of help from the fire department Mummery said he was able to lower the level of the sewage but it took days for him to bring in a private contractor to help disinfect the basement.

He paid that contractor $640 and said he did much of the rest of the work himself over the following weeks and months.  It was while he did that work that Mummery noticed something that would later land him in the hospital.

"Well, I thought I pulled a muscle up here, “Mummery said while pointing to his shoulder.  “It wasn't a muscle, it was a heart attack."

For Mummery, two letters he received months after all this only added insult to injury.  One letter from his own insurance company and another from the Town of Henrietta’s insurance company stated that he would not be reimbursed for his expenses or the hours he spent cleaning up after this mess. The insurance company for the Town of Henrietta went on to explain how the town was not liable and could not be pursued for damages thanks to municipal law.

"I would like to have some restitution for what I've done," Mummery said. 

Another 13WHAM Your Stories report this year dealt with Perinton couple in a strangely similar situation.  They also received a denial letter from the exact same insurance company that also represents the Town of Perinton.  In that case the source of that couple’s basement flooded with raw sewage was a faulty fuse on a town sewer pump that sat just feet from their property.

"I'm wondering how many more of these things are around this county that are in this kind of shape or people next to it are in trouble," Mummery said while referencing that Perinton story.

Henrietta Town Supervisor Mike Yudelson spent two days looking into this situation after 13WHAM News brought it to his attention.  He said he is sympathetic to the Mummery’s situation but that a comparison to the Perinton situation is not an accurate one.

In this case Yudelson said he’s learned the leak into the Mummery’s basement was the result of a blockage somewhere along the sewer line and that no mechanical failure or personnel oversight are to blame.  He said the town’s insurance company wouldn’t cover the municipality for an unexpected blockage in a sewer line just as it wouldn’t cover an unexpected event involving a drainage system that backs up.  He said most homeowner’s insurance policies offer coverage for residents but a consultant he spoke to said they often are sold as separate products by those companies.

Yudelson did say he would continue to inquire about this particular situation as he’s concerned whenever a situation presents itself that leaves residents “holding the bag” for things like this.

Your Stories: sewage flooded couple's basement, they're left with bill


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