WASHINGTON - A woman forced out of her Northeast D.C. home after a sinkhole developed under her neighbor's house and then spread to her property has been pleading for help from the city.
It has been more than a month since the sinkhole took away a good part of Willistene Montgomery's house on Jay Street. The American Red Cross placed her in a hotel for a few days, but she is now residing at a friend's basement with no help in sight while still paying her mortgage.
On Friday, Montgomery showed Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray the damage to her home.
“As soon as I stepped out of my door, I just [said], ‘Oh my God,’” she told Gray.
It is unclear what exactly caused the sinkhole, but Gray acknowledged it does not appear to be any sort of natural disaster.
Montgomery's insurance company has declined to provide any assistance unless the city verifies that a natural disaster was not to blame.
“My next steps will be the ones I have just outlined and that is to try to get to – not try – I’m going to get them involved," said Gray. "You can’t leave homeowners in a situation like this. This is horrific."
The homeowner has not been allowed inside her house since late February. She said at this point, she is desperate for help cutting through the red tape.
“Just imagine everything I have worked all my entire life,” Montgomery explained. “I don't have anywhere now for my ten grandkids to come visit me. I haven't received any word from the insurance company, from the city, from housing, from anywhere as to help.”
“They have been moved from one agency to another and these agencies will say what they are doing individually, but it seems like no one has taken the responsibility for coordinating this entire process,” said Gray. “There is a solution. The question is who ultimately is responsible for making sure that happens and that is what we are going to get to the bottom of.”
Gray said he will be reaching out immediately to both the Mayor's Office and City Administrator’s Office. He also said this may be just the beginning. If there are structural or utility problems, that could impact other neighbors.