WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- People whose homes were recently damaged by mine subsidence in Washington Township, Fayette County are urging their elected officials to help prevent more damage in the area.
Homes located along Mutich and Hollywood Streets are sitting on top of an abandoned coal mine, but homeowners never thought they'd find mine subsidence damage. They said they've been without gas for a little more than three weeks and that they aren't receiving the help they need.
This might make people in western Pennsylvania ask the question: what's under my home?
"You can't take showers, you have to go take showers at different places. It's just a pain," said Jeff Manown.
Manown, his wife and 10-year-old son are still staying in their Washington Township home without hot water or heat.
Mine subsidence caused their house to shift and crack on the weekend of Sept. 16.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation investigated nine homes in total and found that six of them had significant damage in the basement and slight to moderate on the main floor.
The Manown family has asked several organizations for help, as they don't know how much longer they can stay in their home, especially without gas.
"They said there's pretty much nothing they can do right now for us," Manown said.
According to DEP's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Howard Concrete Pumping began work on Monday. Crews will drill into the old mine and pump grout to stabilize the ground under the homes. DEP expects that the emergency project, including site restoration and equipment removal, will take a little over a month to complete.
"I think they should just start filling in while they're drilling, they should just finish, there is funding out there, bring another crew, another rig in before something else happens," Manown said.
"It needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed quick," said Bud Manown, Jeff Manown's father.
In Pennsylvania, there are 5,000 or more abandoned mines and more than a million structures may be located over old mines, according to the DEP.
DEP has a map for residents to search if their home is over an abandoned mine.
The areas shaded in gray are over or near a known mined area and are at risk of mine subsidence, and DEP's mine subsidence insurance is recommended. The areas shaded in pink are over or near an area where mineable coal exists and it was possibly mined, and DEP's mine subsidence insurance is available if desired.
Manown has subsidence insurance, but he said it isn't high enough to cover the $350,000 in damage to his home. This type of damage isn't usually covered by homeowners' insurance.
"People around this area should up their mine subsidence to a lot of money," Manown said.
Multiple other homeowners in the township have dealt with the same damage in recent years.
Manown's father wants the community, county commissioners and state lawmakers to show up to the township's regular meeting next Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m.
"We're coming into winter, it's going to take a couple more months to drill all these holes, to fill everything up, just put a push on it. They're here to represent people in this Fayette County and it's only going to get worse and everybody knows it," said Bud Manown.
DEP released this statement to KDKA-TV:
"Washington Township, Fayette County has experienced numerous mine subsidence events and DEP has executed a number of projects to stabilize the ground from historic mining, much of which occurred prior to the 1940s. You can see in the attached map that nearly all of this area has been undermined.
"DEP's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation addresses abandoned mine land (AML) problems. This may include taking on emergency projects to stabilize the ground in a particular area if subsidence has occurred. However, this program does not compensate property owners for structural damage caused by AML issues or AMD. Much like naturally occurring landslides, there is typically no viable responsible party to address mine subsidence from abandoned mines or compensate property owners.
"To address the risk of damage to structures from abandoned mine subsidence, DEP offers Mine Subsidence Insurance. DEP encourages property owners to visit https://www.dep.pa.gov/msi to see if their property may have been undermined and explore low-cost coverage options to protect their structures.
"DEP offers Mine Subsidence Insurance to cover damage to homes or buildings and their appurtenances (appurtenances may be covered if associated with a damaged structure) that occurs during the policy period and which is caused by the movement of the ground surface as a result of the collapse of underground coal or clay mine workings, or from a sudden unexpected breakout of water from an abandoned mine. This type of coverage is typically not offered through a homeowner's insurance policy. DEP recommends that homeowners obtain mine subsidence insurance coverage at 20% greater than the replacement value of the home. Coverage on a $100k home would be less than $30 per year with 10% off for seniors. A $1 million home would only cost a little over $250 per year to insure.
"DEP encourages the public to report abandoned mine land emergencies (https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Land/Mining/AbandonedMineReclamation/Pages/ReportanAMLEmergency.aspx) or any other environmental concern (https://www.dep.pa.gov/About/ReportanIncident/Pages/default.aspx). People can contact DEP at no cost by calling 866-255-5158 or submit a complaint via DEP's website, http://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Regional/SouthwestRegion/Pages/Environmental-Complaints.aspx.
"The public is an important partner in DEP's work, and we urge residents to notify us and work with us. It is helpful if reports of emergencies and complaints are made in a timely manner and include a description the environmental concern in detail with a date, time, location, visual observation (including photos or videos), and description of pollution and how it may be moving (if applicable). DEP reviews and responds to every complaint that we receive."
for more features.