O'BRIEN: Why would anyone stuff a woman's wardrobe down sewer? - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

O'BRIEN: Why would someone stuff a woman's wardrobe down a sewer?

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When Richie Reis heard someone recently had thrown an entire wardrobe of clothes into one of Quincy's storm catch basins, he wasn't too surprised.

"It sounds like somebody got mad at somebody," Reis said with a laugh.

Part of Reis' job as the assistant director of operations for the city's Central Services is to help fish stuff out from the city's sewer and drainage system that's not supposed to be there.

Believe it or not, plenty of things wind up where they shouldn't be.

"One time we had a report of a deer carcass in a catch basin at 20th and Maine," Reis said. "It was actually the whole deer. We were thinking that somebody probably stuffed it down in there. There's a very slim chance that the deer was running and slid into the opening."

It left quite a mess for Reis and his crew to handle.

"It was probably one of the grossest things I've seen," he said.

You name it, and the Central Services crew has probably found it. Listening to Reis run down a list of items they've collected over the years, you get the idea that they could have a heck of a yard sale. They've found cellphones, skateboards, even handguns.

Reis remembers the carrier of a defunct Quincy publication who made like Newman, the mailman on "Seinfeld" who didn't always deliver the mail. Reis found bundles of the publication in the catch basins.

Central Services doesn't get rid of everything it finds, Reis said. He said they'll often find purses and other items that might have been taken during a vehicle break-in or other robbery. Reis said those items are turned over to police.

Reis admitted that the wardrobe found near 14th and Kentucky was unique. A woman who lives in the neighborhood was raking leaves and dirt away from the gutter, but her husband had a tough time getting his rake into the gutter.

He called Central Services, which brought a huge vacuum to help clear the drain. The next thing they knew, they were bringing up purses, dresses, shirts, slacks and other items -- all of which were still left on their hangers. These weren't rummage sale items, either. They were high-quality clothes that had been shoved into the sewer.

"The thing that gets me about it is, who would do this?" asked the woman who stumbled into the wardrobe find. "There were dresses in there that were expensive."

Reis certainly doesn't advise using storm drains as trash cans. If you have something that slips down there, don't go after it. Reis says call the Central Services crew to help you out. He says they receive several calls every year from people who have items that fall into the drains.

"We do not want people going into catch basins unauthorized," Reis said. "There could be stuff down there that you can die from, things like methane gas."

Or you might just find a dead deer or any number of things that you'd never think of finding.

-- dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

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