Reprinted with permission
Mine subsidence drives pair from Donora home
The Valley Independent (pittsburghlive.com)
By Jeff Pikulsky
Saturday, December 31, 2005
DONORA -- Potential mine subsidence has forced a Donora woman and her daughter from their hillside home for the holidays.
Helen Zuraw, 86, a lifelong Donora resident, and her daughter, Donna Minor, were told to leave their home Christmas Eve after
the foundation of their Bank Street residence began to shift.
Large cracks can be seen on the sides of the brick house, which sits at a dead end on the street several feet away from about a
50-foot drop off into a wooded area.
On one side of the home, a large section of bricks have fallen off. Part of the front porch is separated from the roof.
Zuraw left her home on Christmas Eve and stayed for a night with her son, Daniel, in Rostraver Township. She is now staying
with other relatives.
Daniel Zuraw said Friday his mother is having difficulty dealing with the hardship.
"It wasn't much of Christmas at all," he said.
Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Surface Mining assessed the property this week,
deeming it unfit for habitation.
DEP spokeswoman Betsy Mallison said Zuraw's home sits above an abandoned mine. She said it is most likely that mine subsidence
caused the damage, but added that OSM will conduct drilling tests on the property to confirm the source of the problem.
Mallison said residents in Zuraw's neighborhood should purchase mine subsidence insurance either through the DEP or insurance
agencies that offer the protection.
According to a DEP mine subsidence website, more than half of Donora sits above mine shafts.
The insurance costs less than $1 per year for each $1,000 of home value. So, to insure a home valued at $50,000, coverage would
cost $50 per year.
Mallison said the insurance would cover the cost of structural repairs for residences proven damaged by mine subsidence.
She said there are many areas in the Mon Valley that could be affected.
A community directory that indicates which areas of each Mon Valley community are undermined is available at www.pamsi.org.
Click on the "Homeowners" tab in the middle of the page and then on the "Check for Risk" link to get to the list of counties
Those without Internet access can call 1-800-922-1678 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for information.
Jeff Pikulsky can be reached at email@example.com.