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City claims no responsibility for basements damaged by Omaha sewer backup

City claims no responsibility for basements damaged by Omaha sewer backup

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A pair of neighbors in the northwest Omaha neighborhood of Maple Village is dealing with a city sewer backup that’s caused major basement repairs.

Now, the city of Omaha responded to their claims but one homeowner believes he can fight city hall.

It’s not what the homeowner could see, but rather what he could smell that leaves Sam Barg with an unforgettable memory.

“Unmentionable,” said Barg. “It was horrible.”

Across the street, homeowner Dexter Renter had similar damage.

“The city should be responsible for something that happened off our property and was in the street,” Renter said.

Both neighbors were forced to hire contractors to rip out and rebuild their basements.

The two homeowners have spent a combined $37,000 out of pocket to repair the damage caused by the sewer backup and have both filed a claim with the city.

But, both received denial letters from an Omaha Assistant City Attorney.

The letter read, “Our investigation determined the backup was caused by a blockage of heavy roots that had accumulated in the sewer main.”

The city letter said the sewer had been jetted in 2016 and the blockage developed afterward. Since public works didn’t know about the problem or have a chance to fix it prior, the law says the city isn’t liable.

“I would not take their word for it,” Barg said.

Instead, Sam Barg made a records request to the city clerk for sewer inspections under his street and he received pages of work orders for free.

“They gave us timings and stuff like that of when things were done,” he said. “And I want to be sure what she’s saying is accurate and I found a couple of things I don’t think were.”

Assistant City Attorney Mary Elliston told 6 News that questions and concerns from both homeowners will be sent to the sewer department for a response.

“Based on what the information I found,” Barg said. “It’s at least making them rethink what they decided the first time.”

Barg, an accountant, believes the paper will back up his and the neighbor’s claim that sewer damage repairs should be reimbursed by the city.

However, the city did pay for the cleanup of Dexter Renter’s basement right after the backup. But the City Attorney said that was a goodwill gesture and doesn’t establish liability.

Neighbor Sam Barg declined the cleanup offer because he didn’t like the reviews on the two cleanup companies contracted by the city.

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