Allegheny County

Man who lost everything in water main break in Wilkinsburg asking for accountability from officials

WILKINSBURG, Pa. — A water main break on Tuesday sent water rushing into a Wilkinsburg condominium complex, forcing one man to break through his patio door to escape.

That man is Ray Pope, whose apartment took on four to five feet of water, destroying everything he owns.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE >>> Water main break floods ground-level condos, causing damage at Wilkinsburg complex

“I need help,” he told 11 News on Friday. “That’s just basically what it comes down to. I need help.”

For Pope, it seems that the need for help has been met with more finger-pointing than accountability.

“I would love to see someone point at themselves, but so far, this is what we’re getting,” said Wilson Jackson, who owns the condo Pope has been renting at the Westgate Condominium complex.

Both Jackson and Pope have been trying to get help from their insurance companies to replace Pope’s belongings — from the basics to the $30,000 worth of audio equipment he uses as an artist and studio DJ.

“The responses from both insurance companies, so far, has been poor and doesn’t give either one of us any confidence that they’re going to cover the damages,” Jackson said.

“There’s basic stuff that I need that I have to really worry about right now,” Pope added.  “It’s costing me a lot because I lost things and I have to put out extra money just for basic little things that you’re already supposed to have.”

According to condo association President Elaine Griffin, the association’s insurance company is paying a restoration company to fully renovate the four damaged units, including Pope’s.

That work has just begun and will take months, forcing the residents to find somewhere else to stay.

“[The workers] have to get everything out of there, then they have to install new carpeting, new flooring, the drywall, they have to prevent the mold, they have to do all the cleaning,” Griffin explained.

Wilkinsburg Mayor Dontae Comans tells 11 News Tuesday’s water main break on Trenton Avenue was caused, at least in part, by the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority working on pipes in the area.

“The water company knows that they made a mistake when they hit their pipe and it blew up, I guess, their 12-inch pipe,” Griffin said.

Even though Griffin noted the water authority cleaned up the condo complex’s landscaping and is supposed to be sending claims forms to impacted residents, some are not satisfied.

“How much accountability have they taken so far? Zero,” said Jackson.

Pope has set up a GoFundMe to help cover his living expenses until he’s back on his feet. Click here if you’d like to donate.

11 News has reached out to the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority multiple times for comment, but so far, has not heard back.

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