Breaking News
More () »

East St. Louis woman looks for answers after years of mold issues caused by flooding

Phyllis Robinson showed 5 On Your Side mold and mildew built up in her house since 2015.

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Infrastructure issues have plagued East St. Louis for many years and one woman came forward about her own struggles in the community on Tuesday.

Phyllis Robinson contacted 5 On Your Side after seeing our recent story about a massive sinkhole that swallowed a car in East St. Louis on the Fourth of July.

Since 2015, the homeowner recalled her own issues stemming from several floods outside her home in the Losiel Hills neighborhood.

“I'm tired of begging. I'm tired of pleading and I'm tired of crying over the same crap. I'm living in mold and mildew. That's accumulated from the streets," Robinson said.

At the end of a hill on Woest Boul sits Robinson's house she purchased in 2012.

Videos showed where the house had been hit time and time again by floods caused by water main breaks.

“Five water breaks. I have five different claim numbers," Robinson said.

She showed where the exterior of the home was shifted and her valuables were piled up in her garage from storage she said she was compensated for but could no longer afford.

5 On Your Side got a look at the worst part, the daunting damage the water and pileup had caused inside the house.

“The mold has gone so far up in the walls now,” Robinson added.

It was also evident that Robinson had done a lot of work herself to eliminate the mold issues, pulling up baseboards and cutting out parts of the wall.

Pictures indicate lesions and Robinson claimed she and her son developed inside the home since the mold began and has to take medication for it.

Her dining room table was filled with documents dating back to 2015 outlining the different water main breaks, hospital bills, property damage costs, and exchanges between companies.

"The City will say it’s the water company’s fault. The water company will turn around and say it's the City's fault. I also have insurance through Allstate. They said it's considered a flood, so they won't even help me."

Spokesperson Terry Mackin with Illinois American Water sent the following response to some of our questions:

How much of a responsibility does your company have to help her replace her items/fix damaged property? 

Our company continues to work with Mrs. Robinson. Our insurance company (Travelers) is also working with Mrs. Robinson on her claims and the insurer is awaiting additional information from Mrs. Robinson. To date, payments totaling $4,805.77 have been paid to Mrs. Robinson, for a restoration contractor and for alternative housing for Mrs. Robinson after the main breaks in the summer 2020. Over the past two years, employees from our East St. Louis operations have provided information to help Mrs. Robinson complete insurance claim forms. We will continue to work with Mrs. Robinson.

What caused the breaks?

Water pipes are more prone to leaks and breaks when weather is extremely hot, or cold. Mrs. Robinson’s home is located at the bottom of a hill directly across from Maurice Circle Drive in the Loisel Hills neighborhood of East St. Louis. When the water main broke on Maurice Circle Drive, unfortunately, water would flow directly downhill into her property. There were two water main breaks on Maurice Circle in summer 2020.

What is the company doing to avoid future water main breaks? 

After the main breaks in summer 2020, we completed an emergency water main replacement later that year (November 2020) on Maurice Circle. That water main replacement included installing about 1,000 feet of new 6-inch water line. There have not been water main breaks there since late 2020.

Over the past 10 years, we have completed approximately $11.3 million in water main replacements within the City of East St. Louis.

"I really wanted to stay in my city. But I don't know now. I'm about ready to go," Robinson said.

Robinson has filed a formal complaint against Illinois American Water with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

There is a status hearing set for Wednesday afternoon.

Before You Leave, Check This Out