Steve Bell called a plumber to his house on Victor St. as soon as he noticed his toilet and bathtub were starting to overflow with stinky, thick black water in March.
"It went into our mud-room, it went into our hallway, it went into our bedroom," he described.
The plumber had him call City Hall, and a city worker showed up 45 minutes later. After two and a half hours of flooding, it finally stopped.
Fortunately for Steve and his fiance, the $8 thousand worth of damage to the carpet, tile and even drywall was covered by insurance; leaving them with just a $1 thousand deductible, with a couple hundred more in personal items, to pay for out-of-pocket.
"All we asked the city for was to cover the deductible, and the personal items. We didn't ask them to cover the whole repair."
It took two months of making calls and mailing letters to Lansing's engineering department until he received a letter accepting all the fault for what happened, but not claiming responsibility for the damage because it was dealt with in "a reasonable amount of time."
"They consider two and a half hours of my house flooding with sewer water to be reasonable?"
Bell says the City needs to consider the amount of water and the possibly harmful material it contained, not just the time frame: "It was two and a half hours of sewer water; not rain water, sewer water."
He says the City had his neighborhoods sewer cleaned the day after the disaster, but worries about other Lansing neighborhoods.
He says he will continue to fight for compensation until he gets it, saying it's not about just the money, but the principle.
Today I called the City's Department of Engineering several times to hear their side of the story. After no returned calls I went to their office. They would not tell me the last time the sewer on Victor Street had been cleaned before the incident, and wouldn't tell me any more. The City's goal is to clean the sewers out every three years.