Altamonte Springs residents are dealing with raw sewage seeping into their homes as power outages affect sewer pump stations in municipalities throughout Central Florida.
Susan Morris noticed sewage spewing out of the shower drain in her Altamonte Springs apartment at 9:30 a.m. Monday. She grabbed her two children, clothes, her laptop and textbooks and left the Boca Vista apartment in Altamonte Springs.
“I got up to make coffee and noticed the carpet was soggy,” said Morris, a student at the University of Central Florida and the mother of two children. “Friends and neighbors helped me stuff clothes into bags and the entire apartment was covered with sewage in less than an hour.”
Luckily, Morris has renter’s insurance and the apartment management has put the family in a hotel for four nights and agreed to move them to another apartment.
“Everything is a total loss but it’s just stuff,” said Morris, who said she was also grieving the loss of her friend, Brian Buwalda. The 51-year-old accountant was electrocuted in Winter Park by a downed power line Monday. “He was on his way to help a friend. Our loss is nothing compared to what his family is going through.”
Sewer pump stations have reported outages citywide and crews are working to address the issue, according the the city’s website. Officials at the City of Altamonte Springs did not return a reporter’s call.
Municipalities across the state are experiencing sewer problems following Hurricane Irma. The sewage pump or lift stations run on electricity and when the power goes off, the systems can back up.
Orange County has not experienced any backups and is trying to avoid them. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the county’s sewer stations are running at very high capacity and some are running on generators.
She asked residents to conserve both on the water side, and on the sewer side.
“If you don’t need to flush your toilet, wait to flush it,” Jacobs said. “I know that’s a little uncomfortable There was a movie that once, that’s probably not appropriate to share. ‘If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s,’ … you know. Use your discretion,” she said. “What we don’t want to see are any backups from waste.”
She also urged people to refrain from running washing machines or dishwashers with partial loads, and urged people not to take long showers.
The City of Casselberry is also asking residents to keep water use at a minimum. Power outages have left most of the city’s lift stations without electricity. City staff is working to pump down the lift stations using portable generators. Residents were notified about the problem and there have been no backups, according to a Casselberry spokesperson.
More than 20 sewer lift stations in Winter Springs remain without power, according to the city’s website. City offices were closed Tuesday. Water pressure has been reduced city-wide to minimize demand at the lift stations. The water is safe to drink and it is not necessary to boil water. Duke Energy is working to restore power to the lift stations.
Reporter Scott Powers contributed to this story.