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'It was crazy': Sewage flooded apartment during Provincetown sewer emergency

Jennette Barnes
Provincetown visitor Rebecca Qiao, of Connecticut, and her family had to look for an alternative place to get lunch during the sewer emergency because downtown restaurants were closed.

The town of Provincetown says property damage was minimal from the recent sewer emergency, but at least three properties required cleanup by an outside company.

Summer resident Kevin Levesque, known for his shows as Miss Conception, says sewage started backing up into his bathroom almost a week after the town declared a sewer emergency.

“My toilet just started overflowing, and it just started backing up and pouring out,” he said. “And then I looked, and my bathtub was completely filled and pouring out as well.”

And it wasn’t water, he said — it was sewage.

“It was crazy. I've never seen anything like it before,” he said.

He moved out for 12 days.

“The owners took charge right away, and they completely gutted the place,” he said. “They cut the walls out; they took the carpets out. They had a company come in — a huge cleaning company.”

When the vacuum sewer system in the Commercial Street area experienced an electrical problem earlier this month, Town Manager Alex Morse said no sewer backups into homes had been reported.

But since then, a small handful of properties have experienced some kind of spill.

The town has received calls from two people looking to speak to the town’s insurance company — one about a sewer backup and one about lost business revenue, according to Sherry Prada, deputy director of the Department of Public Works.

But Morse said homeowners and their insurance companies are responsible for the cost.

He said he’s aware of three sewer incidents that required remediation by an outside company.

Once the electrical problem was fixed and backups cleared, the system successfully handled one of the season’s busiest weeks last week, he said.

The problem with the vacuum sewer system comes as Provincetown officials are preparing to seek public support for sewer expansion this fall.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.