Raw sewage overflows in yard for months leading to woman's health problems
City records show the city threatened Tracy Robinson's landlord, but didn't follow up on those threats, leaving sewage to puddle in her yard for months.
Raw sewage is being blamed for a Chattanooga woman's health issues. City records show the city threatened Tracy Robinson's landlord, but didn't follow up on those threats, leaving sewage to puddle in her yard for months.
Robinson said she was never warned about the problem that went on for seven months. Records show the city did warn Robinson’s landlord about a cracked pipe that was leaking raw waste.
We wanted to know why the landlord wasn't forced to fix the problem sooner.
"It's sad,” Robinson said packing up her things, “Putting all my stuff in this little bitty car."
It's been a month since she moved out of the home she was renting on Tunnel Boulevard.
"I have lived in my car. I have lived in hotels. I have never been in this kind of situation,” Robinson said emotionally, “I told my landlord on several occasions."
Robinson said she was allowed out of her lease after her doctor determined sewage backup on the property may have contributed to her respiratory issues.
"I carry it around because it's the only evidence that I have,” Robinson said holding a folder stuffed with documents, “The only proof that I have."
Robinson routinely saw city workers inspecting property around her home. She filed an open records request to access city documents to learn why.
"When I found out that it was a sewage problem I was like, how can it happen?” Robinson questioned, “Did nobody never warn me! Ya know, sewage is toxic."
Those records, verified by Channel 3, include city inspection reports, internal emails, and pictures that document the sewage issue that went on for 7 months.
The raw sewage issue was identified last August. A week later the city sent a letter to the property owner warning him of the health risks and telling him to correct the problem in 7 days or face a citation.
The city also threatened to condemn the home.
"They was aware that this problem was at this residence,” Robinson urged, “This landlord was never cited, he was never petitioned to court, they allowed it to go on and they had knowledge to it."
Inspection logs show Robinson’s yard was still "surrounded by fresh sewage" months later. Four months after the first inspection, the city contacted the property owner again.
Repairs were made, but other issues kept popping up. No citation was ever issued.
Channel 3 reached out to the property owner, a nearly 104 year old man.
A family member spoke on his behalf saying:
"For the past months we have been working to find the correct solution for the external plumbing issue at 304 Tunnel Blvd. I have documentation that we contracted with a variety of professionals to repair the problem. They went through a variety of solutions until we found one that was a permanent fix. It was a time-consuming and costly process.”
But in March, the city sent another letter giving the owner another month to fix the problems.
"It made me feel like I was nobody,” said Robinson, “Like my health and well-being didn't mean anything."
In an email from the city engineer, he urged the department to find a "more aggressive approach to landlord properties," so residents are not affected for an "unreasonable amount of time."
Legal experts said property owners are obligated to notify tenants about issues that could be a health concern.
The property owners in this case said they did not do that, they thought the city would.
Channel 3 reached out to the city multiple times about why a citation was never issued and if procedures were followed.
Our questions have not been answered.
Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.