12/04/11 — City crew helps with last-minute Thanksgiving sewage crisis

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City crew helps with last-minute Thanksgiving sewage crisis

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on December 4, 2011 1:50 AM

Any day you flush your toilet and hear your kitchen sink blow up promises to be the beginning to a hectic week.

But imagine if you were expecting your family over in less than four days for Thanksgiving -- that's the predicament Lonnie Reeves of Frank Street found himself in when he realized he had sewer problems Nov. 20.

"I've got my family -- my son, his wife, my fiancée's son and his wife and two babies -- all this family coming over for Thanksgiving and I need my toilet to flush," said Reeves, 40.

After speaking with his landlord, he purchased a plumbing snake and tried to fix the problem himself, but to no avail.

Desperate, he called the city's sewer maintenance department the Monday before Thanksgiving to see if an employee could tell him where his cleanout was so he could try snaking his sewer from the other end.

"They sent a man out, but he said the house was too old and has no cleanout," Reeves said.

The employee instructed him to put in a work order, but Reeves felt it would never get filled in time to save his family gathering.

"I said there's no way my stuff will be fixed by Thanksgiving," he said.

But about 9 p.m. that night, Reeves noticed someone painting lines on the street in front of his house, but was most surprised when he heard work being done in his yard early the next morning.

"Tuesday morning there was a backhoe standing out there and they were already digging it up," he said. "I asked the foreman what was happening and he said, 'My supervisor said that your plumbing will be working by Thanksgiving.' They put in a brand new cleanout."

Reeves asked around and learned that it was Richard Adams who made sure that his Thanksgiving plans weren't affected by sewer issues. Adams was the supervisor who told his work crew to make sure Reeves' plumbing was restored by Thanksgiving.

But he wasn't the only employee Reeves said went out of his way to help him out, mostly because Reeves' bad luck had just begun. A transformer near his house blew leading to a power work crew setting up shop nearby. With lots of cars turning around in his driveway, his newly installed cleanout and the freshly dug dirt there was getting a beating.

Another city employee, whom Reeves identified as Chuck Patterson, came back last week to dig the cleanout deeper to prevent damage to it. He even suggested he would come back -- perhaps on his own time -- to lay concrete in it to protect it.

"I was fixing to hire a work crew," Reeves said of the ordeal. "I did not ever call and put in a single work order. I'm not used to that. Everybody always yells at the city and gets on to them, but these two gentlemen with the city are going out of their way to help and they are really owed thanks."

Adams, however, made it seem like the work he did ahead of Thanksgiving -- without the customer even putting in a work order -- was just part of his job.

"He had called me about it so we took cameras and worked at it. We got it to where we could go fix it and we went ahead and did it with the holidays coming up," Adams said.

Reeves admitted that the work didn't solve all of his sewer problems -- he still ended up needing some plumbing services -- but stressed that had it not been for the dedicated work from the city, his holiday plans might have been ruined.

As it turned out, Reeves said he and his family had one more thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.