7Investigates: Who is at fault for sewage spill that forced a Gloucester family out of their home

GLOUCESTER , MASS. (WHDH) - A family is forced out of their Gloucester home, after a sewage spill. 7News looks at who is responsible?

It’s not something Garland Aiello ever wanted to see, or will forget. Raw sewage flooding the bathroom of his Gloucester home.

“It was just a flood of sewage coming out of the toilet, the shower and we didn’t know what to do,” says Aiello.

Aiello thought maybe the pipes were just clogged, so he cleaned up the mess and called the city.

“Next day the city came out, and I guess they couldn’t find the blockage. They went up the street, pressurized the whole sewer system,” says Aiello.

Aiello says that’s when things got really bad, adding the pressure in the pipes caused sewer water to come “out of the toilet, the sinks, the shower, like a volcano.”

The filthy water also flooded into his kitchen, and it didn’t stop there. “We had what, 3 inches of water on the floor,” says Aiello.

Aiello was able to get rid of the water, but the sewage stayed.

“It just filled everything. Every crevice was just sludge,” says Aiello.

Now he says his home is unlivable.

“There was sewage on the walls because it was pressurized when it came out. You don’t want to go back and live in something like that,” says Aiello.

What caused this dirty disaster?

Attorney Joseph Orlando Junior represents the Aiellos. The sewage spill is still officially under investigation, but he says the Aiellos were told by the city, a manhole cover is to blame.

“This thing (the manhole cover) had, we believed, collapsed into what is the actual main sewer line and caused this blockage. And the blockage resulted in a backup into my client’s home,” says Orlando Junior.

The city confirms the manhole was paved over several years ago. The manhole cover (access to the sewer manhole) was buried prior to the paving of the road. It’s unclear when, by whom or why it was buried.

Orlando Junior says the city are at fault.

“Well it’s their responsibility. The main sewer line on this street is not owned by my clients. They had no power to prevent what happened here,” said Orlando Junior.

Gloucester officials wouldn’t tell us much, just that they’re aware of the problem and that it is now a matter between the city’s insurance company and the Aiellos.

The Aiellos keep the belongings that survived the sewage in these pods in their yard. The family of eight has spent the last three months living with different friends and families.

“It’s just been horrible for the past few months,” says Garland.

We reached out to the City of Gloucester’s insurance company. In a statement, the company said, in part, that they sympathize “with the family that is displaced from their home. It is our intent to settle this claim with them so as to minimize any further disruption to their lives.  To that end, we have reached out to their attorney and provided an offer to settle. It is our hope we can settle this claim with the homeowner as soon as possible.”


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