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MILLVALE (KDKA) – The crushing impact of the hillside is obvious in 37 and 33 Spring Street.
From the air, the size of the slide is almost beyond belief as it progressively puts more and more pressure on the homes.
Karl Cavanaugh is the Millvale Fire Chief.
“It’s just amazing the amount of trees and dirt that have come down off that hill. It’s remarkable,” he said.
The weekend rains have made a potential destruction of the homes inevitable.
“It is very difficult because they are families that lived here and lived here for a longtime,” Marianne Linn, from the Catholic Parish Cemetery Association, said.
The slide is coming from property owned by the Catholic Diocese beneath St. Nicholas Cemetery. The cemetery is not threatened, but the association is doing what it can to help the residents get their belongings out of the homes. Jackie Geis and her stepfather, who lives next door, moved out of the homes to another nearby when the slide first threatened in late April.
With the help of the Cemetery association and Millvale firefighters, she was hurrying Monday to get keepsakes safe.
“We got pretty much out of his house, but mine, I didn’t get everything I wanted,” Geis said. “I went in and sat in the bedroom and said, ‘Thank you, house. For being my house.’”
Thirty-one Spring Street has been her home all her life; it has been condemned, too.
The race is on to control what Chief Cavanaugh says will happen one way or another. The house at 37 Spring Street is visibly leaning towards the street and is clearly moving.
The house at 33 Spring Street has been inundated by trees and dirt in the rear and is being slowly crushed.
“If proper measures aren’t taken, they could fall on their own at any time,” Cavanaugh said.
The utility companies removed the wires in front of the homes Monday, and demolition permits are being acquired. The heavy excavators should arrive sometime Tuesday and demolition begins before the end of the week. But Linn says demolition is only the first step.
“We’re going to be working on the hillside, working on the slide itself,” she said.
It is a massive job that could take months, but a job being raced against mother nature’s clock.
“With all the rain we’ve had, it’s sped everything up with this slide.” Cavanaugh said.