Saturday, July 13

4,500 Gallons of Sewage Flooded the Basement of Historic Portland Apartment Building

The residents in Portland residential complex Morrison Park Apartments encountered quite an unpleasant surprise last week when the building’s basement inexplicably became flooded with sewage — about four inches of it, in fact.

The apartment complex, located in the historic Whitmarsh Building at 623 S.W. Park Avenue, reportedly starting filling up with sewage sometime in the afternoon of Monday, March 9th. When emergency maintenance crews responded to the scene, they found that the building’s 6,000-square-foot basement had been flooded with about 4,500 gallons of sewage.

According to Linc Mann, the spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, the building’s manager called in a private plumber to investigate the situation initially, and then proceeded to call the city’s maintenance crews for backup help. The crews then discovered that a blocked pipe in the building’s system had caused a toilet to overflow in the basement.

Additionally, Mann said that the City of Portland was taking responsibility for the problem; according to Oregon Live, Mann explained that a tree root had caused the blockage. “Tree roots and grease are the two big problems for our sewer system,” Mann reportedly stated.

The city will likely be held responsible for all cleanup costs, although the property’s management company has already stated that the entire cost to repair the basement is still unknown. Considering that the average homeowner pays anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 to repair water damage in a basement — not including damage caused by toxic sewage — the total cost of the repairs is certain to be very high.

While some residents in the 60-unit complex have complained that the manager did not take action fast enough after a “faint poo smell” started to spread throughout the building Monday morning, and although others are frustrated that their personal items have been damaged (since the building’s basement was used for storage), the problem doesn’t appear to be a major one.

One resident stated that it was “inconvenient, but not a hardship” to use the bathrooms at a nearby Subway restaurant while the pipes were being repaired, and that the smell had started to disappear later that evening. Most importantly, the sewage flood does not appear to have caused any serious health complications for residents.

Jason Ramsay, a mitigation administrator with one of the crews that responded to the scene, managed to find the silver lining in the situation: “More sewage could have come in if we didn’t make a quick response,” Ramsay told KGW News.

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