Ft. Washington residents defy evacuation orders from slope failure and go home
FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WJLA) - After spending the last month in a friend's home, Leigh LaFosse, her husband and their two dogs are finally moving back in to their house in Fort Washington.
"This is apocalyptic, but it's nice to know we are going back home," Leigh said Friday.
What kept them out of their homes for four weeks? A slope that gave way, causing the road to drop 4 feet, and workers to have to cut off water to the homes.
"It's a shame to pay such high taxes and be homeless," said homeowner Gwynn Roberson.
Roberson said she and her neighbors have reached a breaking point.
"We've had problems for 10 years, and the county has ignored it," said homeowner John Schnizlein. "The county is exaggerating safety concerns that they've ignored until now."
Knowing that the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) will restore water temporarily to a few homes, some are choosing to defy evacuation orders.
"We are still saying it's unsafe," said Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Prince George's County."The police are here. There's no road access. We still have safety concerns, even after the WSSC fix."
Therefore, all residents who are moving back in to their homes were given an official notice by the county that said - they do so at their own risk.
"You occupy your residence at your own risk and against the advice of Prince George’s County, Maryland. The County will accept no liability for any claims and causes of action, debts, demands, expenses and costs (including attorneys’ fees and costs) of any kind or nature whatsoever, known or unknown, you may assert as a result of any injury sustained as a result of your occupation of your residence until such time as the County declares the area safe and fit for habitation."
As far as making those homes safe once again, the construction company KCI has come up with three solutions to fortify the neighborhood, which will take months. With dozens of shredded utility poles and hundreds of downed trees, there is no quick fix.
Considering it could take months to decide which solution to go with, and then months after that to start the work, many residents say - that's exactly why they'd rather wait it out at home.