Strangers come together to help Petersburg woman coping with recurring sewer backups

Published: May. 25, 2021 at 7:56 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - A group of people came together to help a Petersburg woman coping with recurring sewer backups.

Help was immediately offered to 88-year-old Bertha Moss after On Your Side Investigator Diane Walker’s original story aired about the terrible situation affecting her health and peace of mind. Viewers wanted to see Moss get the help she needs because unlike most cities or counties in our area, Petersburg makes the homeowner responsible for repairing sewer blockages that are in the street.

A few weeks after sharing Ms. Moss’s story, Petersburg utility workers went to work outside the Halcun Street home, where a clogged sewer line has pushed raw sewage back into the house three different times since January. They didn’t come by chance. It took cash, a little more than $3,000 to get the utility crew here. Money Moss said she didn’t have when Walker first shared her horrible predicament last month.

Sewer backups filling the tub, toilet and even overflowing into the washing machine and other plumbing outlets happened over and over again. Moss said, “Just pray to God I get it fixed.”

The City of Petersburg wanted most of the money before even dispatching a crew to remove faulty piping and install a new sewer lateral. NBC12 viewers collectively moved the earth for the 88-year-old.

Steve Pietryk and his wife, Carol, paid half the bill, saying “after watching the news article about the condition in which Ms. Moss was required to live, with raw sewage backing up into her house, we were appalled and knew we had to help.”

Dave Tolley paid the other half. Sadly, the former American Red Cross volunteer didn’t get to see how his generous gift improved Bertha’s life. Dave died about a month after receiving a cancer diagnosis. His wife, Beth, says it meant a lot to Dave to be able to help.

The Petersburg utility crew finished the job in a day, removing the rusty lateral. It was tossed in the back of a dump truck, and a new sewer connection was installed from the curb to the mainline. In addition, new lines were also installed from the house to the curb, thanks to Dave Thompson, general manager of M.A. Williams Drain Cleaning, Plumbing, Heating and Air. His team did the work free of charge, even putting down grass seed and straw.

Bertha and her son, Wendell, who advocated for her, are thankful.

“Thank you, Lord, and Thank you all,” Moss said.

Thompson says he’s happy to help get Ms. Moss’s plumbing back in working order.

Petersburg officials say going forward, she shouldn’t have any problems, but if she does and the blockage is in the street, the city will take care of it.

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