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Allegheny

West End couple regrouping after landslide buries house

Bob Bauder
| Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, 6:51 p.m.
The Greenleaf Street home of Charles and Beth Butler was destroyed by a landslide in Pittsburgh's Duquesne Heights neighborhood, as seen on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
The Greenleaf Street home of Charles and Beth Butler was destroyed by a landslide in Pittsburgh's Duquesne Heights neighborhood, as seen on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
Dirt and brush from a landslide in Pittsburgh’s West End blocks a ramp feeding traffic from Routes 51/19 to Route 51 (West Carson Street) and southbound Route 837 (Carson Street) on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.
Bob Bauder | Tribune-Review
Dirt and brush from a landslide in Pittsburgh’s West End blocks a ramp feeding traffic from Routes 51/19 to Route 51 (West Carson Street) and southbound Route 837 (Carson Street) on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.

Beth Butler knew something wasn't right when she saw creamy colored mud Thursday on a curve near her house on Greenleaf Street in a steep section of Pittsburgh's West End.

Butler, 58, had never seen that before. She called the city's 311 response center.

City officials last Friday ordered the home evacuated over landslide concerns.

Two days later, Butler watched as the hillside gave away and destroyed the home she and her husband, Charles, shared for 35 years.

“The insurance is not going to cover the house or any of the belongings because it was earth movement, and it is not a covered item,” Butler said Tuesday. “I guess what I'm going to need to do is secure an apartment for now.”

She said she and her husband spent years rehabbing the house after purchasing it for $1,500 in 1983, after it was condemned.

The slide spilled onto a highway ramp leading out of the West End.

Streets in the area remained closed for a third straight day Tuesday as crews continued working to remove tons of debris.

Motorists cannot access northbound Route 51 (West Carson Street) or southbound Route 837 (Carson Street) as they normally would from a ramp in the area of the former West End Circle.

Streets will likely remain closed the rest of the week, according to city officials.

Karina Ricks, Pittsburgh's director of mobility and infrastructure, said the ground is settling but debris could continue to fall from the slide area.

She said rain predicted for this week could complicate the work.

Pittsburgh has retained a Butler contracting company to haul away the mud and rocks. Ricks was unable to provide a cost estimate.

“We think that most of the slide has come down,” she said. “We have drain channels in, and we've got a pump going that is getting the water off the hill. Now it's just a matter of removing that material.”

Community rallying for the Butlers

Butler, who works in the Radiology Department at UPMC Mercy hospital, said she and her husband are staying in a hotel.

Coworkers started a gofundme page that has raised $24,133 since Monday. The goal is to collect $100,000 for the Butlers.

Community groups and coworkers are collecting household and personal items.

Butler said the main thing they need is an apartment for at least six months. She asked people hold off on donations of furniture and other items until she finds a place to stay.

She said she never expected so much generosity.

“It's truly amazing. I am just so thankful,” she said. “I've asked people to identify things that they can provide to me so I know and I can get after the fact. I can't take anything yet.”

The landslide poured over a retaining wall and dumped debris onto the heavily used ramp.

Pittsburgh has also closed much of South Main Street through West End Village.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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