FOX 8 Defenders: Underground problem swallows Mid-City yard

New Orleans-- A problem under the ground grew out of control and nearly swallowed a Mid-City front yard. After three years, the homeowner says work crews finally tracked down the source, but she says it wasn't until the FOX 8 Defenders jumped on the case.

"It looks wonderful actually. Finally some stuff got done," said Debbie Majeau as she walked around her Taft Place home. The grass is growing, and there's a brand-new sidewalk. The street, still broken up from work crews, needs to be repaired, and the city's right of way between the street and sidewalk, cleaned up. Majeau is just happy the disaster that unfolded in her yard is now history.

"This right here is where the sinkhole started, and so it would get bigger and bigger," said Majeau. She said the hole between the sidewalk and her home was five-feet deep.

Majeau says she's lived in the Taft Place house for 28 years, and her husband has lived there for nearly 50 years. According to Majeau, the couple never had concerns with their property until 2009. Over time, she says the hole grew, consuming her front yard, and after a while, she started to notice the stucco on her house was cracking. Majeau says that's when she called Entergy, concerned about a gas leak. "They (Entergy) finally found a pipe that was separated six inches from top to bottom. They repaired that pipe," she said.

But even after the repair, Majeau's sinkhole never went away, from 2009 until just recently.

Majeau says she started to notice holes were forming under her sidewalk. She tells FOX 8 she called everyone from the City of New Orleans to the Sewerage and Water Board for help, and says eventually Entergy tracked down a bigger problem. Majeau says after calls to Councilwoman Susan Guidry, the city's electrical contractor found that someone ran a conduit right through a sewer house connection. She says the contractor confirmed that duct protects electrical wires to the street light.

Majeau says a city contractor ran a new conduit outside of the pipe to her street light, which is back to working again, after being out for some time. She says Entergy poured a new sidewalk, and the Sewerage and Water Board repaired the damaged sewer pipe. A board spokesperson tells FOX 8, in its investigation, two contractors for two different utilities were both working in the same area at the same time. Once the Sewerage and Water Board determines who's at fault, the spokesperson says the contractor will have to pay for work the board has completed.  As for paving, the board says it will repave Taft Place where the street is broken up.

The FOX 8 Defenders and volunteers with the National Council of Jewish Women are here to take your consumer concerns. If you have one, call them at 1-877-670-6397.