RAND, WV (WOWK) – Some residents are speaking out after they say their homes were flooded with raw sewage following heavy rain earlier in February.

Those affected live in the unincorporated community of Rand in eastern Kanawha County, which has been facing drainage issues for several years.

“It was horrendous. That’s the only way I can put it, and when you’re the owner of the house it’s quite discouraging,” said John Smith. “I mean you wouldn’t even want to go look at it, it was so bad.”

A spokesperson with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) said their staff met with the Public Service Commission, Malden Public Service District and the Kanawha Charleston Health Department to discuss the sewage complaint on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Malden PSD discussed the steps it took to remediate the issue, which included sending a company to clean up the mess. Then, after the meeting, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department checked in with residents to ensure everything was safe.

“There’s just a lot of bad characters in the water,” said Stan Mills, Director of Environmental Health with Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. “People just need to understand that because people look at stormwater and think it’s just water, it’s not. There’s a lot of hazardous stuff in there.”

In October 2022, the West Virginia Department of Highways announced a plan to fix the drainage system in Rand. The project is projected to cost $12 million, but they said it will take several years to complete.

“It’s frustrating, unfortunately, almost every sewer system in the state of West Virginia has the same problems,” Mills said. “They just wear out. These lines are 70 to 80 years old.”

If residents have any sewage-related issues in the future, Mills said they should contact the Malden Public Service District. He said they can assist with cleanup, but the permanent fix won’t come until the storm drains and sewer lines are fixed.

A spokesperson with the WVDOH said the groundwork for the project will begin next spring. Currently, they’re working on obtaining environmental clearance.

“The target dates of next spring as a start date for on-the-ground work is still our target. We expect design plans from the consultant this summer and the project will be bid following that.”