NBC10.com - Lu Ann Cahn
Another big sinkhole opens up on a Northern Liberties street that's been plagued with problems. Now, residents are calling for an investigation before they pay another dime for damages. NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn tells us how they plan to fight back.
Over a week after a huge sinkhole on a city street nearly swallowed a pickup truck, another sinkhole on the same street caused a stream of water to shoot out of the ground.
A water main break caused a sinkhole to emerge on Monday along the 900 block of Randolph Street in Northern Liberties. According to one resident, the sinkhole caused a shooting water stream that "reached three stories high for an hour and a half."
Kate Somerville recorded Monday's sinkhole. Water from the latest main break flooded her basement as well as her neighbors'. Residents say it took the Philadelphia Water Department several hours to respond.
"They said they'd come," Somerville said. "They said that about three hours ago."
Residents claim PWD officials finally came to fix the break after receiving a call from Councilman Darrell Clarke.
Back on December 5, a sinkhole on that same street nearly swallowed a pickup truck. Larisa Dersko, the owner of the gray Dodge pickup, told NBC10 she had to pay $2600 for the gaping hole left behind.
The water company found the infrastructure of the street completely washed away with a 6-inch water main leak. They claimed Dersko was responsible because they believed the hole was caused by a leak in her service line.
Dersko, who was without water for a week prior to the sinkhole, told NBC10's LuAnn Cahn that she called on Thanksgiving, days before the hole opened up, to report that something wasn't right.
Neighbors told NBC10 that six to seven sinkholes have emerged on their street so far this year. They say they're frustrated new buildings are going up on the street while they're stuck with old service lines that continue to break. They're also frustrated by the fact that the Water Department still insists that the cost of damages and repairs is on the homeowners.
Before Monday's incident, residents say the PWD never bothered to pave over the street after fixing the sinkhole.
"They doubled up our real estate tax," Somerville said. "I think for that they should do some infrastructure and do the whole block. Because it's real patchwork, ductape jobs they're doing."
Clarke's office told NBC10 they asked the Water Department to find out if there is a larger problem on the street.
"We understand that this is a frustrating experience for the residents that live here," a PWD spokesperson said in a written statement. "We will be in contact with them as soon as our investigation of the failure of some property water services and laterals is complete."
Frustrated neighbors say they may have to eventually take legal action against the city.
"If they have to get together collectively to protect their interests and avoid what they see as an unfair situation, I'm sure that they'll do that," said Matt Ruben of the Northern Liberies Association. "There has gotta be something wrong here!"
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