"Oh Rats! Some West End residents try to keep a lid on problems in their bathrooms": Live rats were surfacing in residents' toilet bowls. One Richmonder recounted how a rat apparently came up through the pipes and "knocked some things around" in the house before returning to the toilet where it was found dead.
The Richmond Health Department was unfazed. "It's not anything unusual," said Clinton Giffith, speaking for the department. "It happens all over the city." Griffith said excess water caused by flood drainage problems was leading to water swells inside the sewer system. The swells swept up rats nests, "causing the creatures to pop up in unexpected places."
The explanation perplexed Style reporter Susan Betts, who asked, "But really, how can this happen?" Griffith conceded that it was amazing "how they come through the trap that holds the water in the bowl, but somehow they do it." An unimpressed local plumber said he got calls all the time about rats in toilets.
The city had the following guidance: "Step 1, calm yourself; Step 2, close the lid and flush; Step 3, call the city health department; Step 4, go back to the bathroom; Step 5, open the lid and pour Clorox in the toilet; Step 6, flush."
A spokeswoman today says nobody at the city's Department of Public Utilities has heard of a rat coming up through a city toilet. So don't say things in Richmond never change for the better.