Family swept out of house by Carrick water main break settles in cemetery caretaker’s cottage
Rose Gitzen has found a house surrounded by her family — both living and dead — while awaiting word on her flood-damaged home in Carrick.
Gitzen, 78, was among the residents of East Agnew Avenue displaced from their homes on Sept. 20 after a water main break severely damaged their properties and nearby streets.
First responders had to rescue Gitzen and her daughter, Wendy, from the deluge, and the city has since condemned their house along with a neighboring home.
While insurance claims are processed, the Gitzens and Wendy’s fiancee, Adam Cardamon, are living temporarily in a vacant caretaker’s cottage at the nearby Birmingham Cemetery on Brownsville Road, courtesy of the cemetery board.
“People asked me if I was afraid to be living in a cemetery,” Rose Gitzen said. “This is real nice. My husband, my mom, my dad and sister are all here. They’re buried here. I’m not afraid of anybody here. We’re so thankful to the cemetery that we’re not living in a hotel anymore.”
Sharon Heinnickel, the secretary at Birmingham Cemetery, said she heard about Gitzen’s plight from the news.
“We don’t have a caretaker at this time, and the place was empty,” she said. “We were just happy to provide the Gitzens with temporary housing at this trying time in their lives.”
The Pennsylvania American Water Co. has promised to “make things right” for customers affected by the deluge, but the insurance process takes time, a spokesman said.
“Our representatives, including engineers, appraisers, adjusters and restoration contractors, have been on site daily and are working as quickly as possible to resolve these claims and address all property damage,” said spokesman Gary Lobaugh. “While we cannot provide a definite time frame, we stand by our commitment to make things right for our customers affected by the East Agnew Avenue water main break, and we will continue these efforts until all issues are resolved.”
He said contractors repaired East Agnew Avenue, and it opened to traffic on October 3. The street is being closed on one end from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and weekends when necessary for repairs to flood damaged Becks Run Road. Traffic on Becks Run is restricted to one lane during work hours.
“We understand the urgency that our customers expect for resolutions to their property damage claims, and we are working to resolve all of these claims with that same urgency,” Lobaugh said.
Hi-Tec Car Wash along Becks Run and Kesten Poured Walls on nearby East Poplar Grove Avenuewere damaged by flooding. Tom Kesten, owner of both businesses, said that Pennsylvania American arranged for repairs to washed out East Poplar Grove Avenue and for temporary repairs to a flatbed truck that was buried by flood debris. Two excavators were also damaged, he said.
“As far as my equipment, lost material, lost wages and everything from my car wash and my concrete business, nothing has been done thus far,” Kesten said.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .