CHATHAM, NJ - Last January, John Pryor heard what he thought were the sounds of a washing machine running in his basement. Then he realized that the washing machine wasn't running and went to see what was making the sound.
What he saw raw was sewage pouring into his basement from a toilet. Before the source - a "Fatburg" - was finally contained, it had pushed more than 16 inches of sewage into his home.
He and his wife, Anne, came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night to speak during the public portion of the regular meeting and warn residents about what happened to them.
"The purpose of our attendance tonight is to deliver a much-needed and long overdue PSA," Anne Pryor said. "We feel obligated to enlighten everyone about a very serious public health and safety issue that is occurring in our community. In fact, this crisis is happening all over the globe.
"Furthermore, we understand that by publicly disclosing this information, we risk depreciating the value of our home and our property. What is it? It's a Fatburg, F-A-T-B-U-R-G. It's a congealed lump in a sewer system formed by a combination of items, including disposable wipes, sanitary wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene and incontinent products, along with grease and cooking fat."
See Anne Pryor's full remarks below about the "Fatburg" that caused sewage to pour into her home on Cherry Lane in Chatham Borough last January
The Pryors, residents of 33 Cherry Lane in the borough, reported that it cost them more than $50,000 to clean up their home from the mess and stench and that insurance only covered $7,500 because the cause of the sewage backup happened on Lafayette Avenue and not in their home.
The Pryors are seeking retribution from the Morris County Joint Insurance Fund, which covers the borough but have run into issues that have left them frustrated. Anne Pryor suggested that the borough pass a referendum to set up a SOOL Fund for future predicaments such as this one, an acronym with a sarcastic message (which can be seen in the video above).
After Pryor's public comments, Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris referred the Pryors to the Morris County JIF representatives.