Sewage Backup Forces Church To Close - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Sewage Backup Forces Church To Close

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by Adam Ghassemi

MONTEREY, Tenn. – Pastor Walter Phillips says he came to the Monterey Church of God a few weeks ago and discovered an unwelcome visitor.

"When I opened the door brown, black looking water came out," he said Friday.

Raw sewage covered the floors and was touching just about everything. Mold is now growing everywhere. He's still tallying-up the damage.

"It was all the way to that bookcase. From one end to the other," he said. "The church is literally going to have to be gutted."

Phillips says he called the city. Newly-elected Mayor Richard Godsey first sent a cleaning crew and then went himself, thinking the backup would be covered by insurance.

Now, he knows better.

"It was an act of God is what the problem was," said Godsey who blames the problem on Monterey's aging sewer system.

Heavy rain can quickly overwhelm the system and back-up sewage into places. Godsey says an insurance adjuster claims the damage isn't covered under the city's policy.

That means they can't pay to clean up the church, or they'd have to pay for everyone.

"They're no different than anybody else. They got flooded. Act of God," Godsey went on to say.

"It's a slow, ticking time bomb," said Phillips who isn't only frustrated with the situation, but also what he calls the city's lack of response to a problem he didn't create, but is now left to clean-up.

"We're talking people's health here. We're talking people's lives here," he said.

Mayor Godsey says they're currently working on fixing the sewer and should reach the church's part of town in the spring.  He says they're currently working on a plan to replace the entire aging system.

Pastor Phillips says they may have to get attorneys involved if something isn't done.

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