Community activist blames city for flooded home

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Flooding inside the home of Rev. Markel Hutchins.

ATLANTA - The city of Atlanta said it is not to blame for a backup that caused raw sewage to flood the basement of a well-known community activist. However, Rev. Markel Hutchins believes the fault lies with the city.

Hutchins said he was away for meetings in Mississippi when he got a call from a house sitter that raw sewage was coming up out of his downstairs bathroom and flooding his furnished basement. 

Channel 2’s Richard Elliot toured the home with Hutchins. Elliot said using water lines on the wall, it appears the sewage caused 3 to 7 inches of water damage to the walls and flooring.

"I'm accustomed to dealing with devastation although I've got to tell you, it's a little more difficult when it's your own," said Hutchins.

The sewage also damaged Hutchins' home office, and thousands of dollars in clothes, especially suits he had piled on the floor ready to take to the cleaners.

"I sincerely hope that the city accepts responsibility for this," said Hutchins.  "I don't think this is something my insurance company should have to pay for."

The city's Watershed Management Department sent crews out to Hutchins' home Monday.

According to spokeswoman Scheree Rawles, those crews determined there was no way a city sewer line could have overflowed into Hutchins' home.  The crews believe the issue may be with a neighbor's storm drain overwhelmed by the heavy rains over the weekend. 

"It was determined after a thorough investigation that no public lines were blocked.  After consultation with homeowner, we returned to the property for a second investigation on Monday afternoon, it was again determined that no public lines were blocked.   There is absolutely no problem with the public sewer main," officials said in an email to Elliot.

Watershed Management officials stressed, it would have done the same investigation for any citizen who called with this kind of damage.

"Every time that a flood happens in the Bible, God had a greater and higher intent," said Hutchins.  "But I really don't think this is a flood.  I think this is sewage and water damage."