Neighbors battle sewage problem in their backyards

Some residents on Hillside Avenue in Florence say sewage is spilling over into their backyards, and they believe the city's main sewer line was to blame.

"The smell is just terrible," said Javier Afanador. "We normally have the dogs out here in the yard. And when this happens we can not have the dogs outside."

Afanador says Tuesday, sewage backed up into their backyards for the fourth time in the past six years.

Afanador and his neighbor, Judith Cumbia, are also concerned the sewage is also making its way into Jeffries Creek which flows behind their houses.

"That's going right in to Jefferies Creek and people fish," Cumbia said. "They eat the fish out of it. So it's a health hazard."

Afanador says they contacted the City of Florence Public Utilities Department, but didn't get a response.

A resident did email the city about the problem but sent it to the wrong department, according to Public Utilities Director Michael Hemingway.

He sent a crew to investigate the problem Wednesday afternoon and says a cap to a residential sewer line was somehow removed, causing the sewage to backup in the yards.

They are double checking, though, to make sure there aren't any other problems with the line, Hemingway said.

The department plans to notify residents of the results of its investigation.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has been notified about the possibility of sewage making its way into Jeffries Creek, Hemingway said.

It was estimated 150,000 gallons of sewage flowed into Jeffries Creek following a blockage in 2008.