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“Landslides are a major issue in western Pennsylvania. Helping citizens and communities mitigate or recover from major catastrophic events, such as those caused by landslides, is precisely where government assistance should be applied.” – Rep. Valerie Gaydos
During the last several weeks, I have been closely following the unfolding events related to a large landslide that occurred on Jan. 12 in the Sonoma Ridge neighborhood in Moon Township, specifically on Stags Leap Lane. Despite this landslide occurring a short time ago, it continues to be labeled as an active slide. Two homeowners were advised to evacuate for their safety.
PennDOT crews continue to work diligently to remove the overburden and to stabilize the part of the hillside which had collapsed, sending mud and parts of several back yards down the hillside onto Beaver Grade Road, which is partially closed.
This incident still leaves the homeowners in limbo. The trauma is overwhelming. It is even more shocking when damage caused from landslides is not covered under normal homeowners insurance.
To give you some background, a landslide is considered an “earth movement” event so, like an earthquake, it is excluded from standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Even though you can buy what is known as a “Difference in Conditions” (CIC) policy, it typically is expensive and has limited coverage. CIC policies are sold by surplus lines insurers but are very hard to find. Should you wish to consider CIC coverage, contact your insurance professional to help you find a surplus lines insurer that can meet your needs. For those who have been a victim of a landslide, there is currently nowhere you can go to seek help. That is why Rep. Emily Kinkead and I have been working on legislation that would help some homeowners find relief should they find themselves living in landslide-prone geographies.
The news media has been covering this unfortunate story all week and has given Rep. Kinkead and I the opportunity to speak about a solution to help homeowners in peril in part, if not in whole, to rectify the problem.
While this legislation might not be retroactive, tragedies like the one in Moon Township demonstrates the urgency for the Commonwealth to create a new insurance program for homeowners living in landslide-prone areas, as well as assistance to local governments that wish to mitigate the risk of landslides within their communities.
House Bill 589 is a bipartisan piece of legislation that would add coverage of landslides, slope movement and sinkholes to an existing program in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that currently only covers mine subsidence assistance and insurance. This measure would have far-reaching impacts in safeguarding residents against nature’s often unpredictable forces.
This week, I was interviewed on the Big K Morning Show (KDKA Radio 1020) with Larry Richert, Marty Griffin and Kristine Sorensen. Click here to listen.
I also discussed this issue with the television stations in our area, including WTAE in Pittsburgh. Tom Garris talked to me one-on-one as I outlined the situation.
The lack of landslide protection leaves many Pennsylvanians exposed to the financial fallout and creates a large burden to communities in a multitude of ways.
“Instead of coming up with all kinds of executive decisions, it’s imperative that Gov. Josh Shapiro studies and supports our landslide legislation. This should rank high on his priority list! We must help our citizens!” – Rep. Valerie Gaydos
|1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
| Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
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