2 years later: South Philadelphia water main break victims seek help from city

Residents are still seeking to recoup the money for pricey repairs, almost two years after one of Philadelphia's biggest water main breaks.
Residents are still seeking to recoup the money for pricey repairs, almost two years after one of Philadelphia's biggest water main breaks.

The damage was extensive from the 4 foot wide water main break at 21st and Bainbridge streets in South Philadelphia back on July 22, 2012.

Two years later, things seem to be back to normal until you walk into the homes of residents who haven't seen a dime in claims to the city.

"It's extremely, extremely frustrating. The saving grace has been the support of the neighbors," resident Kathy Perini said.

Action News was there in 2012 when the cleanup began for Kathy Perini.

She and about 100 neighbors suffered heavy water damage and still have repairs to make.

"We have subfloor that needs to be replaced because we found evidence of mold," Perini said.

Total claims from the incident appear to be unprecedented: nearly $2-million.

But under a decades old state law, the city is only required to pay out $500,000.

"The law should be overturned. There has been some legislation introduced so hopefully in the future that law will actually increase the cap," Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said.

The Court of Common Pleas appointed a special master who will dole out the cash.

But Councilman Johnson who has been leading the charge to help residents says the biggest claim was filed by PECO.

The company says its underground electrical system was destroyed costing $869,000 in damages. That figure does not include weeks of labor.

"I think that they should pass on this particular claims process, allow the residents to claim as much as they can so their lives can be made whole," Johnson said.

The regulated utility says it's concerned about the residents at 21st and Bainbridge, but if it withdrew its claim, the loss would be folded into its rates which could impact all customers.

"They're actually pulling money out of the hands of the victims of this situation because they want to lay claim to that money and they have far more resources to be reimbursed for their damages than we do," Perini said.

Verizon had a claim for a much smaller amount than PECO, but withdrew it.

As this drags out in court, Action News has learned that Court of Common Pleas appointed special master makes approximately $500 an hour.

Councilman Johnson says that fee will be taken out of the $500,000 which means, more money taken away from these residents.
Related Topics:
news philly news water main break South Philadelphia
(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments