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‘We Can’t Live Here Now’: Sewage Shoots From Toilets in Melrose Homes

Toilets that backed up in Melrose, Massachusetts, left a huge mess in several homes.

"Feces coming through our toilets," said resident Silvana Ortiz. "Spewing into our living room, hallways, bedrooms. Basically everything's destroyed. We can't live here now."

Ortiz noticed a leak outside Thursday morning, and she called city officials.

But just after crews arrived, something went haywire and the toilets started exploding.

"All the floors need to come out," said Ortiz. "The walls, the bathroom's destroyed."

Shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, Melrose officials said residents had left the four impacted homes.

The city said Department of Public Works crews responded to a potential water issue Thursday morning, finding a blockage and jetting it to restore flow, as is protocol.

"At some point during that process, sewerage [sic] surcharged back into four properties on Brazil Street," the city said in a statement.

Residents have been throwing out everything that was touched. Bags of their belongings now line the quiet neighborhood street.

"At this point, I'm kind of screwed because all my clothes, they smell like sewage," said Ortiz. "They've been in there 24 hours and they smell."

City officials said Friday night that Melrose would assume expenses for temporary lodging and storage containers put on the properties, adding that specific damage claims would be dealt with through the city's insurer.

Officials in Melrose say DPW staff spent most of Thursday on Brazil Street, with emergency officials helping to locate residents who were not home. The city said police helped gain access to impacted homes in an effort to minimize the damage.

City officials say they're trying to figure out why this happened in the first place.

"Unfortunately, the damage to the homes involved is extensive and could take days or weeks to repair. City officials will continue to monitor the situation, and remain in contact with the impacted residents," the city said. "At this time, the cause of this blockage and the ensuing damage remains under investigation."

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