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Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS -- Tourists from around the world come to M.S Rau to shop for antiques, but this week the back of the store is blocked by a plastic curtain.

Emergency foundation work is underway on the St. Peter Street side of the store, where it is easy to see how badly that part of the 170 year old building is sinking.

'Obviously it hurts business, it costs a fortune, it's a mess,' said owner Bill Rau.

Rau and the Gumbo Shop are sharing the cost to stabilize the common wall between the businesses. They point to the potholes and depressions on St. Peter as evidence of broken underground sewer pipes.

'We actually have sewer backups on a regular basis, 12 to 15 times a year, so imagine having to close your restaurant because sewage is backing up into the restaurant,' said The Gumbo Shop's Brian Molony.

They say it took a year to convince the Orleans Parish Sewerage & Water Board to repair the breaks, but there are still problems.

'The sewerage system was not maintained, was not even designed to support the number of hotels and restaurants that are now being serviced by it,' said Molony.

'It is the Sewerage & Water Board, Public Works not getting together, and each passing the buck, each pointing the finger at each other, saying it's not my responsibility, it's yours, and meanwhile the street's sinking, our building is sinking, and historical landmarks are getting ruined,' added Rau.

I contacted the mayor's office, the New Orleans Department of Public Works and the water board. They all tell me they're working on this.

But the business owners want more than that. They want a permanent solution found to stop the damage to their buildings.

'I think in the long run, our buildings are historic, our sewage system doesn't need to be,' said Rau Antiques Chief Technology Officer Chris Drake. 'It needs to be upgraded now.'

I'll let you know what happens.

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