‘Faeces, toilet paper floating through homes’
RESIDENTS of a Gold Coast street have been forced to leave their homes, tear down rooms and dump personal possessions after sewage flowed into their properties.
They've described faeces and toilet paper floating into yards on Poinsettia Ave at Hollywell during the massive downpours which soaked the city earlier this month.
One resident told the Bulletin a small dog had been floating in the contaminated water and had to be taken to a vet to be treated for e.coli infection.
Therese Rowe, who has lived on the street for 25 years, said she had never seen anything like the events of February 13, despite experiencing similar severe weather.
She and others on the street called on Gold Coast City Council to do more to keep residents in the loop and help them recover - though the council has conducted some cleaning.
"Sewage was leaking from the Monday prior through the drains. Thursday midmorning was the actual overflow," she said.
"It stunk. There was toilet paper and faeces coming back through the drains. We are low lying but we've never had anything like this. We were up to our knees in the property.
"We had to rehouse the dog and everything because we couldn't have him here because of the sewage. We've lost lounges, tools, personal items like photos, a lot of that stuff."
Mrs Rowe said council restorers attended the street to clean interiors and spray a mystery substance.
Her husband has been "ripping out walls and cupboards, skirting boards" from the bottom floor of their home.
"And no one wants to answer any questions," Mrs Rowe said.
She expected to be thousands of dollars out of pocket, despite having insurance.
Poinsettia Ave still had skip bins and ruined furniture lining the footpath on Thursday, two weeks after the worst of the flooding.
Ms Rowe provided a photo of what appeared to be toilet paper littering her yard after the first storey of her home was inundated. She also produced a letter from the council titled Authority to Assist Impacted Customer Without Prejudice.
It allowed the council to undertake services such as "removal of waste material" but "without any liability".
Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: "Faeces was floating through houses".
"And there's kids out in the water on their boards. I'm thinking 'my God, do they know what's in that water?' And the little dog next door got e.coli. They had to take it to the vet because it was floating in the water."
She had to discard ruined carpet in several rooms, but was seemingly "a little higher up" and fared better than most neighbours.
Some residents in the area have pointed to a failure in the city's sewerage systems and said they were having trouble flushing toilets in the days before February 13.
But the council has ruled out any malfunction and said the "sewer overflows across the city" were caused by "the sewerage system being overloaded due to flooding, stormwater and illegal private property connections".
"It was not caused by sewerage pump failure," a statement read.
"In extreme events like this the network is designed to protect properties by allowing highly diluted overflows to be diverted into stormwater drains if flows increase beyond the sewerage system design capacity.
"During the recent wet weather event all 530 pumping stations and four treatment plants operated continuously and effectively."
The council said again yesterday: "All sewerage systems in this area of Hollywell are operating normally."