Every room on the lower level of his home - including the recreation room, laundry room and his son's bedroom - was covered with a foot of raw sewage. The sewage had backed up through the toilet in the lower level bathroom with such force that it broke a bolt on the toilet seat.
It's an old story for residents of the 300 homes that make up the oldest section of the 750-home Forest Hills development. Many say they have had sewer backup problems ever since their homes were built 18 years ago. The Feb. 8 incident, which involved at least eight homes and caused damage to four, was the worst of all, said residents.
The following week, an estimated 70 residents appeared at a meeting of the Township Council, demanding that it force the municipal utilities authority to fix the problem once and for all.
The display of anger appears to have gotten results. The authority has since decided that a pumping station located near the Lubys' home was inadequate and in need of upgrading. Moreover, authority chairman V. James DiNovi said those families affected by the backup would be compensated for damages.
DiNovi said the authority has been examining the recent backup ever since it occurred and added that there was "no question the pumping station is partially if not entirely responsible."
He said the pumping station had been built to serve the original 300-home section of Forest Hills, but now sewage from the entire development was pumped through the station.
In addition, Mimosa Ridge, a 50-unit development off Corkery Lane, had been hooked into the Forest Hills line within the last two years, said DiNovi.
"That might have been the straw that broke the camel's back," he added.
DiNovi said the authority would be expanding the station's wet well, an underground tank that temporarily holds sewage until it could be pumped out of the development. If bidders can be found for the project, the work should be completed by the end of spring, he said.
To ensure that no backups occur in the future, DiNovi said the authority would begin a program of preventive maintenance to periodically clean the mains of grease and tree roots that cause blockages. He said he was aware that Forest Hills residents had had problems with sewage backups in the past, but that he had not been made aware of the severity of the problem.
According to Jack Luby, the problem has been getting worse.
"It (the sewage) usually went into the laundry room," said Jack Luby. " It's been a problem, but it's never been solid waste matter, it was always water. For the past two years it's been under control."
Ed and Ann Freed, who live around the corner from the Lubys on Laurel Lane, have had similar problems. Because of previous backups they had built a 3- inch-high raised floor in their laundry room over a pipe that had been the source of the sewage. The pipe, installed when the house was built for hooking to a toilet fixture, had been covered with a special plastic and rubber plug on the advice of a plumber, Ed Freed said.
But the same backup that left a foot of sewage in the Lubys' home forced the plug off the pipe, came through the raised floor and left a 6-inch layer of effluent in the lower level of the Freeds' split-level house. The sewage destroyed renovation work that the family had been undertaking for the last year and a half.
"We've had to rip up the subflooring and take the walls down and replace the insulation," said Ed Freed. "Basically, we've had to start over again."
Jack Luby, who was visited by DiNovi the day after the council meeting, said he believed he would be compensated for his loss and that the situation would be resolved. He said the sewage had ruined two large rugs in the recreation room and the wall-to-wall carpeting in his son's bedroom. It also damaged furniture and walls and destroyed family mementos that had been stored downstairs, he said.
"We're satisfied they (the authority) are going to move," said Jack Luby. ''I feel in my mind Jim DiNovi made the first move by coming down here. He sounded sincere."