Carrick residents worry that insurance won’t cover damages from water main break
Rose Gitzen and several of her neighbors anxiously awaited word Monday on whether insurance would cover extensive damages to their homes and a nearby business caused by last week’s water main break on East Agnew Avenue in Carrick.
The Pennsylvania American Water Co., which owns the water main, has promised to cover the cost of hotel stays for residents displaced by the mishap. The company has yet to confirm whether its insurance would cover damage to property.
“Right now we’re homeless,” said Gitzen, 78, who lived with daughter, Wendy, 46, and Wendy’s fiancee, Adam Cardamon, 55.
Pittsburgh on Friday condemned two houses on the street, including Gitzen’s. A city official said condemnation means it’s possible to repair the structures, but they are not currently fit for habitation.
Gary Lobaugh, a water company spokesman, was unable to confirm whether Penn American’s insurance would cover damages.
“I don’t have a determination to tell you, other than our adjusters will be investigating claims with the property owners,” he said.
The company had a crew from Casper Colosimo & Son Construction on site Monday repairing Agnew Avenue. Workers used an excavator to push dirt and stones into ditches washed out by the water. They said they worked through the weekend filling a deep crater in the street.
Lobaugh said the company would cover repairs to Agnew Avenue and Becks Run Road, also damaged by flooding. He said workers are repairing the streets temporarily and would return later for permanent repairs.
“We anticipate at some point soon we’ll be releasing a long-term restoration plan,” he said.
Pittsburgh emergency responders rescued Gitzen, her daughter and their six cats from the home after a 24-inch water pipe ruptured around 5 a.m. Friday.
Thirty-five southern Allegheny County communities had low or no water pressure. The water company issued a boil water advisory for the communities Friday and lifted it Sunday after testing confirmed it was safe for drinking. Becks Run Road was closed until Sunday evening when Pennsylvania American finished temporary repairs. East Agnew Avenue remains closed.
The company also restored water service to all of the impacted areas.
Water rushing around Gitzen’s house cut a deep ditch, exposing her foundation and extending several feet below the footer.
“We thought the house might have been able to be fixed, but after looking at it, I don’t think so,” Wendy Gitzen said.
Her neighbor Kevin Kehren, 43, said he was able to return home with his family on Sunday.
“Our house isn’t as bad as my neighbors’,” he said. “The water’s back on, the electricity’s back on and they’re working on the gas right now.”
He said his insurance company told him it won’t cover damages from flooding and he was hoping Penn American will.
“They’re not denying anything, but they aren’t approving anything yet,” he said of the water company.
Tom Kesten was in a similar situation.
Kesten owns Hi-Tek Wash car wash on Becks Run Road and a concrete company on East Poplar Grove Avenue that runs parallel to East Agnew. Both sustained significant damages, including heavy equipment critical for his concrete foundation and wall business.
Debris buried a flatbed boom truck and water washed out a good portion of East Poplar Grove Avenue. Kesten said he didn’t know when he might be able to start working again.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Without that boom truck I can’t do anything.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .