BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some business owners in Capital Heights are concerned a project to improve the city's sewer system is turning customers away. However, the real issues might run deeper than they expected.
Kimbreaux Pattan, barber and manager of Final Touch Salon, was busy on Tuesday serving a packed salon of customers waiting patiently to get freshened up before Thanksgiving. He said it is nothing unusual, but the last two weeks he has been faced with a huge inconvenience.
"I'm sorry man, but the restroom is out of order. The nearest one is at Jack in the Box or Albertson's across the street," Kimbreaux told one customer.
Between trimming and shaving clients, Pattan has to tend to an unexpected mess that he said first surfaced at the salon two weeks ago.
"The previous Friday, sewage came out of the toilet, running out everywhere, out the toilet, beneath the toilet, out of the floor," Kimbreaux said.
Kimbreaux had to stop what he was doing to clean and dry the bathroom floor. He believes the problem is related to the Baton Rouge sewer improvement project underway behind his business on Capital Heights.
"When they flushed the sewer systems out in the back, they flushed all that (waste) back into the sewer," Kimbreaux said.
Final Touch is not the only business buzzing about the problem. Joe Hall, owner of Phil Brady's, said like Pattan, he has called the city to complain but they have offered little relief.
"They were working fine before we had all this construction down the street," Joe Hall said.
Both men said an employee with the Baton Rouge Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Program told them they would have to hire their own plumber to address the problem.
"They want you to come out of pocket and pay for it upfront, and then if the plumber determines it was caused by their work, then they are going to reimburse. In the meantime, you're on your own," Pattan explained.
"The DPW (Department of Public Works) has the equipment, the trucks, the man power to come do this in a very short period of time, and I don't understand why the city won't work with a business owner that's been here forever," Hall said.
Joe Young, the manager of the SSO Program, said the Capital Heights improvements did not cause the backup. He said, as part of a separate project, the city recently flushed the main sewer lines to clean them, which uncovered a problem in some private lines. However, if a plumber says otherwise, the city will pick up the repair bill.