By Derrick Blakley

MARSEILLES, Ill. (CBS) — A small town is supposed to be where people care most.

But the downstate village of Marsailles evicted a 65-year-old man from his lifelong home because he did didn’t pay a $6,000 sewer bill. It happened just days after he got home from cancer surgery, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports.

Jimmy Carlson’s lifelong home sits just beyond the village’s own welcome sign. But last week, sheriff’s deputies paid an unwelcome visit, tossing out his belongings and evicting him, all because of the unpaid sewer bill.

For 65 years, the home is the only place Jimmy has ever lived. The sewer bills, about $28 dollars a month, started mounting years ago, and his wife, Patti, admits she was inattentive.

“That responsibility was on me. But as an active alcoholic, things slipped, priorities slipped,” she says.

She’s been sober four years, but consumed again recently with Jimmy’s health problems. The sheriff showed up for the eviction, just four days after he got home from lung cancer surgery.

Doctors got the tumor. The village got his house.

The Carlsons were helpless as scavengers picked through their belongings.

“People even came and took their underwear. They have only one set of underwear right now. It’s horrible, it’s disgusting,” neighbor Stephanie Miskell Engel says.

City officials say they had been working with the Carlsons for five or six years to try to clear up the overdue sewer bills, but the family simply wouldn’t pay. On Thursday, no one at the city level wanted to talk on camera about the eviction.

“It might be legally right, but it’s morally wrong,” neighbor Butch Simmons says.

The Carlsons’ back sewer bills total around $10,000 – that’s about $6,000 in sewer charges and $4,000 in court costs.

The village of Marsailles now owns the home. The Carlsons have another financial problem as well. The city attorney says they’re also about $10,000 behind on their property taxes as well.

The couple is living temporarily with a friend in nearby Ottawa.

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