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Underground pipe eroding causing home to sink, responsibility unknown

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GONZALES - A homeowner says her property is sinking and she blames a deteriorating pipe running through her backyard. After fighting it for three years, she called 2 On Your Side.

Madelyn Landry says she's stuck with a money pit. She and her husband bought their Gonzales home in October 2011 because of its size and location to accommodate their growing family. Until 2016, the family enjoyed the home with a large floor plan, back yard, and pool. They made it into an oasis and spent most of their time outdoors. 

In April 2016, Landry says they found a large hole under their back patio and a tear in the lining of the pool.

"I'm watching my house rip itself apart and sink, is what I'm doing," she said.

That's when they discovered a three foot pipe running through their back yard, feet from their foundation between the patio and pool. Satellite images provided from Google Maps show that pipe carries water from a drainage ditch up the street. It travels through the backyards of her neighbor's properties, under W Karen Street, through the Landry's property, and into a ditch that leads to Bayou Francois.

Large grates cover an opening leading to the pipe through Landry's backyard. Photos taken from inside the pipe show how the metal has eroded and in many places is nonexistent.

"The entire bottom of the pipe is eaten out," she said. "It's literally sucking the dirt out from under my home."

At first, Landry says they were working with the City of Gonzales to come to a resolution. A contractor quoted them a cost of $277,000 for repairs to their property and that's when Landry said the tone changed from the City.

In August 2016, the Landry's got eight inches of water in their home during the flood. They've been unable to make repairs since because of the on going issue with their house and their insurance money is being held by their mortgage company until the matter is resolved.

In October 2016, the Landry's filed suit against Ascension Parish, the City of Gonzales, and East Ascension Drainage District.

The City of Gonzales tells 2 On Your Side the subdivision where the Landry's live was built more than 50 years ago and somebody put that pipe through the neighborhood. The City does not know who that was, nor does Ascension Parish. The City of Gonzales also says it does not have public servitude on the Landry's property to do any repairs and by law it cannot spend tax dollars on private property.

"It's been two years, the response has been: 'It's your pipe, we're not responsible for the pipe, it's your pipe,'" said Landry.

Since, the Landry's problems have gotten worse. The lining to the pool has ripped all the way around. Their living room is unusable because it's sinking into the ground. Landry says you can visibly see how the walls, cabinets, and floor tiling is shifting in the house. She won't let her children or dogs play unattended in the backyard for fear that the ground will open at any moment.

"You just never know when you come out when a hole is going to appear," she said.

Landry says she's tired of sitting back and watching her land washing away, which is why she's taken matters into her own hands. Because no one is taking responsibility for the maintenance of the pipe, Wednesday the Landry's blocked the water's path.

The case remains unsolved.

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