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Recurring storms cause erosion problems

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Eric Slagle | Daily News Glassport residents Jerry and Joanne Wirbicki stand by steel plate and boards covering a hole in the asphalt in front of their Cypress Alley home.
Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

Erosion from recent storms is causing headaches for a Glassport couple.

Jerry and Joanne Wirbicki are worried their home in the 500 block of Cypress Alley is one heavy rainstorm away from being washed out.

Heavy rains on July 10 resulted in a large portion of the street in front of the home caving in after a stormwater runoff problem caused earth under the street to wash away.

“The asphalt was just peeling away,” Jerry Wirbicki said. “You could park a truck in it.”

The couple notified borough officials of the hole in the street and Glassport employees tried to fix the problem. The Wirbickis said an employee using a piece of heavy equipment damaged the gas line into their house.

“Then they told my husband that we need to hire a plumber,” Joanne Wirbicki said.

The couple, who remained without gas on Friday, said on Tuesday the borough on returned to fill in the hole with gravel and patch the alley but the repair only lasted a couple of hours. A heavy rain that night resulted in another washout and the hole returned.

It is believed that a storm sewer backup is causing the problems. The Wirbickis said they've experienced minor problems in the past with potholes forming in the alley but never anything that compares to what they've seen in the last two weeks.

Councilman Dave Kowalski said the borough is working to fix the problem and was in the process of making arrangements to borrow a special camera to run into the sewer line to see where the problem is located. Kowalski said he hoped the camera would be available by sometime on Saturday.

“It will be repaired as soon as possible,” Kowalski said. “That's the first place we're going.”

Kowalski said recent storms caused a similar problem at Ninth Street and Vermont Avenue. Kowalski said the problem in Cypress Alley may be from a blockage at a 90-degree turn in the sewer line. He said it is possible the line will have to be replaced.

The runoff problems caused water to back up in the Wirbickis' basement. Having lost their furnace, hot water heater, washer and dryer and other valuables as a result, the couple said they are worried more heavy rain will cause additional damage to the foundation of their home.

For now, the hole is covered with steel plate and boards.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or

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