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New Jersey Homeowner Says 'Fatberg' Caused Raw Sewage To Flood Basement

CHATHAM, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A woman in New Jersey has a warning for fellow homeowners after raw sewage flooded her basement, causing over $50,000 in damage.

Anne Pryor, of Chatham, was one of three victims of something called a "fatberg."

The foul incident happened at the interior designer's home on Cherry Lane on an otherwise quiet Saturday morning in January. She says the borough's police, fire, and public works team spent the day cleaning, re-mediating, and finding the cause.

"First of all, I had no clue what a 'fatberg' was until it happened to me," she tells CBS2.

Chatham Fatberg
Fatberg at center of the Pryor family's financial nightmare. (credit: CBS2)

It was a congealed, disgusting mass called a "fatberg." Similar gigantic globs of congealed fat, wet wipes and other waste — deemed a "fatberg" because of its iceberg-like size — has been blamed for similar problems in cities across the globe.

"It was tampons, adult incontinence, wipes, some fat, grease people pour down the sink," Pryor said.

The homeowner said none of the mess was hers', but experts say there's a common cause for the disgusting phenomenon.

"All that flow is coming down this line, hits this clog, now it has nowhere to go so it has to back up," plumber Paul Giglio said.

Giglio's plumbing company, Pipe Works, has seen dozens of people affected by fatbergs in the last year. One even wrecked havoc at his own business.

"Baby wipes, feminine products, introduction of all that stuff... dental floss, we've pulled out dental floss that looks like a mop," he said.

Pryor says she's now trying to recoup $50,000 worth of property loss and cleanup costs. Her homeowners insurance only gave her around 15 percent of that, and the borough's insurance company is now offering to also give that same amount.

The plumber Rozner spoke with recommends installing something called a check valve on your pipes to stop backup sewage. Additionally, make sure your home insurance covers these kinds of leaks.

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