GRAPHIC: Family’s basement flooded with animal blood in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO/CNN) - An Iowa family of seven has been forced from their home over health concerns after their basement filled with nearly 5 inches of animal blood, fat and bones, as a result of drainage from a meat wholesaler and butcher shop next door.

Nick Lestina and his family have lived next door to Dahl’s Custom Meat Locker in Bagley, Iowa, for 10 years without issue. But as they were getting ready to sell the home, their basement was flooded with animal blood.

Many of the belongings in the basement were destroyed, including a bed they were saving for their 1-year-old son.

"I was shocked at first, but I had a pretty good idea where it came from,” Lestina said.

Officials confirmed the substance in Nick Lestina’s basement was animal blood, fat and bones.
Officials confirmed the substance in Nick Lestina’s basement was animal blood, fat and bones. (Source: Nick Lestina/WHO/Tribune/CNN)

Lestina says his neighbors were dumping hog and cattle remains down a floor drain, which is connected to his pipes, so the remains ended up in his basement. He immediately reported the incident to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"Nobody wants to see that, smell that. I wouldn't want for anybody to have that in their house,” Lestina said.

Officials confirmed the substance in Lestina’s basement was animal blood, fat and bones. The DNR contacted the Iowa Department of Health due to potential health hazards.

"They told us concurrently we shouldn't stay in the house because of the biohazard,” Lestina said.

The department recommended the family of seven live somewhere else while the house is cleaned. Lestina says the meat locker has been noncompliant in helping cover any costs.

"They haven’t reached out at all. They haven’t taken any accountability for it. They say it’s not their fault and told me ‘good luck.’ If I want to do anything with it, it’s on my dime and my schedule,” Lestina said. “I definitely don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around to throw at this.”

The meat locker owners have since apologized for the ordeal and are planning on paying for the cleanup.

“We’re taking responsibility for it. It wasn’t our fault, we didn’t intentionally put the blood down there. We didn’t want this to happen. We feel for them. I’d be just as mad as they are, in their shoes,” co-owner Kaitlin Dahl said.

Lestina says the meat locker next door dumped hog and cattle remains down a floor drain, which is connected to his pipes, so the remains ended up in his basement.
Lestina says the meat locker next door dumped hog and cattle remains down a floor drain, which is connected to his pipes, so the remains ended up in his basement. (Source: Nick Lestina/WHO/Tribune/CNN)

The state is continuing to investigate the matter. The meat locker was told to stop discharge until a permanent solution can be put in place.

"I really wouldn't wish this on anybody, but all I can do is keep moving forward and try to take care of the problem,” Lestina said.

The Lestina family says they plan to press charges if the meat locker continues to ignore their requests for help.

Dahl’s released a statement via Facebook Tuesday:

We bought the Meat Locker April 1st, 2019. The plumbing issue was not disclosed in the purchase contract. The Guthrie County Sanitarian had inspected, and passed all of the plumbing at the plant March 9, 2019 and again for the change of ownership, May 20th, 2019.

This was not our fault, however, we are taking full responsibility of the issue and corrected it immediately.

We were first notified of the issue after the home owner had contacted DNR on October 3, 2019, and DNR then contacted us about the issue later that evening.

We immediately had corrected the issue the following day October 4th, 2019. DNR, IDALS, and Guthrie County Public Health, all approved of the new waste management of the waste water. We are continuing to work closely with the DNR to make sure that things are done correctly.

Copyright 2019 WHO-DT, Tribune, Nick Lestina via CNN. All rights reserved.