Export residents recovering after water-main break

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 3:00 p.m.

Eight residents of a senior citizens apartment building in Export still are displaced after a water-main break destroyed their first-floor apartments last Thursday.

Eighteen residents of the Duff Manor apartment building on Kennedy Avenue were evacuated after a 12-inch cast-iron main broke on Oct. 10 between 5:30 and 6 a.m., which left between 40 and 50 nearby customers without water until mid-afternoon.

Ten residents living on the second and third floors of the building were able to return to their homes that evening, said Valerie Mittereder, manager of the Murrysville Emergency Shelter Team. Two first-floor residents are staying with family; four are at the William Penn Care Center in Penn Township; one is at a different nursing home; and one is hospitalized because of an unrelated situation, she said.

“Those eight people have lost everything,” Mittereder said. “We don't know if anything is salvageable. If water touched the sofa, it's gone.”

The apartment building is owned by a nonprofit group that contracts with the Westmoreland County Housing Authority. A restoration company was working to remove mud from the ground-floor apartments, said Tom Ceraso, assistant manager of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County. The water authority plans to work with the housing authority to provide temporary housing, if necessary.

That day, displaced residents in the apartment building were given temporary shelter at the nearby Italian American Club, also on Kennedy Avenue, said Michael Washowich executive director of the housing authority.

“It's a tough situation. We (did) everything we can to make it as comfortable as we can,” Washowich said.

The club “rolled out the red carpet” for the groups, Mittereder said, and provided space and meals for the residents.

Ceraso said the age of the pipe might have contributed to the break, one of an average of six or seven per day that occur in the authority's system.

“This one just happened to be in an area where it did damage to a building,” he said.

The break was one of the first situations dealt with by both the newly formed Murrysville Export Emergency Management Agency and the Murrysville Emergency Shelter team. The shelter team, activated by the emergency-management agency, worked on scene to keep morale high and assist residents with any needs.

“We were giving comfort and trying to make sure everyone was OK,” Mittereder said. “I think the teams did an excellent job.”

Stacey Federoff and Daveen Rae Kurutz are a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Federoff can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com. Kurutz can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com. Staff writers Paul Peirce and Mary Pickels contributed.

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