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Updated 11 hours ago
Since Carole Mullen's home on Latrobe's Eleanor Drive was damaged by mine subsidence Jan. 13 and condemned, state officials have realized that much of the city's downtown section rests above an area with deep mines, increasing the risk for future subsidence.
Ed Motycki, chief of the Department of Environmental Protection's mine subsidence section, told more than 150 people who packed a Monday meeting in city council's chambers that letters raising awareness of the state's mine subsidence insurance program soon will be sent to more than 1,000 area property owners, including those in the newly expanded area of known mining in Latrobe — extending roughly between Sylvan Avenue and Jefferson Street and between Oak and Gertrude streets.
Motycki said the insurance, which isn't normally offered by most private carriers as part of homeowner's coverage, should be considered by those living in areas with known deep mines.
According to Motycki, DEP's mine subsidence section — with assistance from other agencies and area universities — is continually seeking out historical mining maps and updating its online map that shows known mined areas. With the increased scrutiny of Latrobe's mining history following the Jan. 13 incident, the map has been updated to include the downtown area.
Motycki said most of the mines in the Latrobe's bowl-shaped coal seam rest below several hundred feet of ground cover.
Some areas have less than 50 feet of cover, he said, but noted the deepness of the mine doesn't necessarily determine the risk for unpredictable and sudden subsidence events.
Motycki noted that homeowners can obtain a renewable yearly subsidence insurance policy through the DEP program for a minimum coverage of $5,000, with a $10 premium, up to $500,000 coverage, at a premium of $257.50.
When determining the amount of coverage needed, Motycki recommended that owners add 20 percent to the value of their home to cover incidental costs for relocating to temporary accommodations and additional amenities such as sidewalks, patios, fences and in-ground swimming pools.
Mullen, who did not have subsidence insurance for her home, said Monday she has moved with her daughter and grandchildren to a townhouse in Unity while awaiting word on whether any other policies or programs will be able to help her recover.
More information about mine subsidence and subsidence insurance is available at www.paMSI.org or 800-922-1678.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
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