Residents in SF neighborhood wake up to sewer water running through homes and streets

The latest storm to pelt San Francisco left some residents with a nasty mess: sewer water in their homes and flooding their street.

It's a continuing problem in the Mission Terrace neighborhood, where Cuyuga Street dead-ends at Interstate 280.

"It's just an explosion of sewer, really scary, really a nightmare," resident Angela Harrison told KTVU, describing how a loud gurgling noise from her toilet woke her up at 4:30 am Friday.

"I just screamed at my boyfriend, 'It's happening again', and he ran out and moved the car right before the street exploded into an ocean of sewer water."

There are about a dozen homes affected.

In some, the overflow streamed out of toilets and filled rooms, about one foot deep.

When it receded, it left a contaminated mess on floors, walls, and furnishings.

"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," lamented resident Blane Bachelor, comforting a neighbor who had sewer sludge throughout her lower floor.

Long-time residents have photo albums documenting such floods repeatedly over the years, resulting in lawsuits and settlements against the city.

The last flood was 2014.

"We have workers here in haz-mat suits, and we have to live here like this?" exclaimed Bachelor, who moved to the neighborhood shortly before the last incident two years ago.

"It's ridiculous. We have no words for how angry we are about this, again!"

Friday afternoon, soiled belongings were piled high on the sidewalk.

Almost everything has to be thrown away as bio-hazard.
Cleaning crews mopped and wiped what they could, at city expense.

"They should be ashamed of themselves for letting this happen," declared Bachelor, "because this is not flooding, it's a catastrophic sewer failure."

The area was a creek and a marsh before it was filled-in years ago, paved and built on.

"The surrounding area, all the water flows to this low lying area," explained San Francisco PUC spokesman Charles Sheehan, "but we do want to move to a solution and we understand the residents are frustrated."

Sheehan blames a brief storm surge for overloading the system, but admits a permanent fix is overdue.

"They take a long time, and they also take a lot of rate payer dollars," he elaborated.

"We're looking at a project for this area and a number of other areas, but the total for those projects is up to $2 billion for .5% of the city that does flood like this."

Families who are fed-up, and once again filing damage claims, feel the infrastructure is definitely worth upgrading.

"The city promised us they would fix the pipes so it would never happen again so we moved back in," complained Harrison, "and so we can't believe this is happening again, we can't even deal with it."