PENN HILLS (KDKA) – Penn Hills officials have condemned three homes after a landslide sent debris crashing into at least one home.
The slide gives the impression of being surgically cut away from the backyards on Westminster Drive released to gravity’s pull. One-hundred-and-fifty feet below, it aimed its power at Debra Parker-Flowers’ home on Bramble Street.
“Oh my god,” she thought when she saw the massive pile. “Oh my god, I was just thanking God nobody was in there. Nobody got hurt.”
When Angela Kemper, who lives next door, saw it coming, all she could think was “that it was going to swallow me and my house up.”
Tons of mud and soil came down, and the trees lightly rooted in the flow bowed down, aiming their trunks as battering rams into the rear of Parker-Flowers’ home.
“My whole deck is gone, back door is gone, holes in the walls from trees,” Parker-Flowers said. “They say it’s condemned. They said all three houses are condemned.”
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The red condemnation notices are precautionary by Penn Hills Fire Marshall Chuck Miller.
“We still have trees snapping back there, falling, and you see large chunks of mud coming down over the hillside. There’s nothing we as a municipality or anybody can do actively to stop it,” he said. “You kind of have to let nature take its course right now.”
Miller says it’s too unstable to put equipment or personnel on the slide to dig it out or slow it down.
“It’s dangerous, it’s extremely dangerous right now,” he said.
Elizabeth Dabney’s home is untouched by any part of the slide so far, but it too got the red notice on the door.
“Everything is kind of leaning in that direction,” Miller said.
Those forced out of their homes want someone to do something.
“Is the township going to build some kind of wall or what is going to happen?” Parker-Flowers said.
Miller’s answer less than satisfying.
“We have to let the land dry out and stabilize itself and then figure out what to do in the future,” he said.
While they wait for the slide to stop and the soil to dry, the Red Cross is helping the families with temporary shelter.