A Battle Creek couple had hoped to be opening their new reception venue this spring but are now dealing with a devastating mess.

Gary and Shirley Cummins own the property at 1745 East Columbia Avenue in Battle Creek. The two had been collecting antiques & unique finishings that were to adorn what the pair had hoped would be the dream venue for newly minted couples wedding receptions. On January 17, 2019, the Cummins instead found that the building had been flooded with approximately 3 feet of raw sewage.

Gary and Shirley say they did not and do not have water or sewage hookup for the property due to work that needed to be done when purchased. They believed that the city was responsible and would help with costs associated with the massive raw sewage cleanup. A professional cleaning crew quoted $15,000 to $20,000 to clean up all of the damage. That is not including the many irreplaceable personal heirlooms, antiques, flooring, walls, mold remediation & having all of the electric sources & main panel for Consumers Energy replaced. After months of waiting for the city's response, they were basically told the City of Battle Creek is not responsible.

We reached out to the City of Battle Creek for a statement in regards to the decision and here is what Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing had to say:

The City of Battle Creek works diligently to avoid any potential sewer disposal or storm water system event. We regret when any customer experiences such an event and act quickly to resolve the situation. While we try to provide whatever support we can, Michigan law dictates that persons seeking compensation for property damage must show that the sewage disposal system, in this case, had a construction, design, maintenance, operation or repair defect and that the city should have known about the defect and failed to take reasonable steps in a reasonable amount of time to repair.

 

These conditions did not occur in this particular instance. To avoid loss, we encourage all property owners to check their insurance policy to determine if coverage is provided for a sewer disposal or storm water system event.

The Cummin's cleanup efforts have slowed at this point due to a lack of funds. The professional cleanup crew removed some of the debris then sprayed everything down with an industrial disinfectant because that was all the Cummins could afford. The Cummins are now completely on their own with cleanup and say they are now filling their fourth dumpster. Shirley was emotional explaining that basically everything in the building is a complete loss. The Cummins are now in the process of retaining a lawyer, something they had hoped to avoid.

Google Street View of 1745 East Columbia Ave.