Gross! Flatbush homeowner inundated with sewage while city stalls on permanent fix

Eric Alexie’s basement has been flooded with stinky sewage for over three weeks.
Eric Alexie

A Flatbush homeowner has been inundated with putrid sewage in his basement for nearly a month due to a sewer back-up on his block — and the city hasn’t taken any steps to fix it!

Eric Alexie says the basement of his E. 21st Street home near Woodruff Avenue first filled up with the rancid water on Jan. 13, stinking up his house and causing untold thousands in damages to his basement. 

“My house smells like s—,” Alexie said. “I cannot keep anything in that basement…I can see that there’s blackness down there so I know that there’s mold.” 

The smell has wafted up from the basement and through the house, forcing Alexie to corral his cats and open all of his windows in the middle of winter in an attempt to air it out.

The homeowner says he is now calling 311 twice a day to have the sewer pumped, which keeps the water level in his basement from getting too high. But Department of Environmental Protection workers have told him the pumping is just a band-aid, and a long-term fix to the sewer line — which was backed up after a manhole on the block was paved over — will be needed to stop the flooding, and the DEP is dragging its feet, Alexie says.

“They’re just not doing what needs to be done in order to rectify it,” he said. 

One main reason for the delay is the fact that his house sits on the corner, at the end of the sewer line that runs down East 21st Street, which makes his house the only one on the block affected by the flooding.

“Everybody else is fine, all the buildings are fine,” he said. “It’s only me, and they haven’t done anything to fix it because it’s only one house and it’s a private house which means it’s only one family.”

Alexie says he is only receiving $5,000 from his insurance company, which he plans on putting towards fees for potential legal action against the city so he can pay to have his basement super-cleaned and decontaminated. 

Still, the cleaning can’t even begin until the city fixes the sewer, because it continues to leak sewage into his basement.

After Brooklyn Paper reached out for comment, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection said work would begin on the clogged sewer later this week pending the weather.

“If the weather cooperates we anticipate the repair of the sewer at this location will begin on Thursday, however until that work can be completed crews are manually pumping the sewer line in order to avoid any sewer backups into homes and businesses,” said spokesmen Edward Timbers.