City to pay victim of water main $34,000

December 04, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Seven months after a huge water-main break destroyed and damaged dozens of houses in East Baltimore, the city has agreed to pay one resident $34,000 to cover the loss of her home that was nearly swept off its foundation by the rushing water.

But the resident, Nellie E. Fagan, whose house on 732 E. North Ave. caved in and had to be torn down, said that she is angry because the city took too long to rescue her and she is looking to hire an attorney. "This is a disgrace," said Fagan, 50, who said she is legally blind. "I lost everything. Clothes, furniture, my special reading glasses. I have had to move in with my mother."

The settlement is the first of several in the works that could offer relief to homeowners whose houses were so severely damaged that they had to be demolished. The city had to demolish 15 houses because of the surging water.

The Board of Estimates, a panel of the city's top elected and appointed officials, approved the $34,000 expenditure yesterday to cover the mortgage on Fagan's house.

City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson said yesterday that the settlement did not represent a change in the city's position that it was not responsible for the break. He said the city would evaluate each of the settlements on a case-by-case basis.

He also said that the city is in the middle of negotiations that would pay for personal property lost in the collapse of the Fagan house.

Fagan said that the city sent her a letter last week saying it would pay $2,500 for personal items lost.

"That is a drop in the bucket," she said.

"This was a three-story house," said Fagan's mother, Jewel H. Lucas. "It wasn't a beat-down house and there was a lot of new stuff."

Since the water-main break May 10 on Homewood Avenue near Green Mount Cemetery, the city has denied it was at fault.

Officials said the break was an "act of God" resulting from a shift in the earth.

To make matters worse for the displaced residents, insurance companies reportedly have refused to pay for damage caused by the water-main break because they claim the city is at fault for the break.

Fagan said that her insurance company has refused to pay.

Pub Date: 12/04/97

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