Fort Washington homeowner pleads for help

FORT WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Remember last spring's heavy rains? It literally became a muddy mess for several Fort Washington residents who ended up being forced out of their homes.

After nine months and five different temporary homes, Daniel Cullen finally got a number Prince George's County can pay him for his condemned property. He asked we not name the number, but told WUSA9 it's around $105 thousand dollars less than what he paid for his home in 2008. It is significantly less than the mortgage he's still paying, even though Cullen and his family are not allowed inside their home and he is paying rent in Alexandria, Virginia.

Cullen smiled for children but said almost in tears, "It's going to put us in the hole even more and for what? For what we can't, they still can't … according to them its rain but this was a preventable disaster."

Now Cullen is pleading for the Prince George's County Executive, Rushern Baker, to step in.

"We just, what we want is for the county to do the right thing and I would have to define that as, acknowledge their responsibilities and their roles in this as the authorities," he said.

Cullen believes it's the county's fault his home is now condemned and said the issue with slope failure was not from just a few days of rain, but years and years of no proper drainage in the area. He said this pointing to a geological survey map a privately hired engineer found that recognized the Marlboro Clay in the area in 1978. The map warned there should not be construction on that type of soil without proper drainage.

Cullen also showed photos of previous road damage on Piscataway Dr. He believes the road issues were signs of a drainage problem ignored.

Cullen said, "I would call it a nightmare. To us it was a preventable disaster and once that was established we thought for sure this could be corrected, all signs are pointing to: that's not going to happen."

The county's stance is this is an issue that happened on private property and that the homeowners are responsible. Even still, Prince George's County Spokesperson Barry Hudson, said over the phone on Tuesday the county set aside around $11 million for the homeowners affected. They also attained FEMA and state funds bringing that number to around $15 million but it won't all go to purchasing the homes, which is a big problem for those homeowners affected.

Hudson told WUSA9 around $2.6 million will be used for the acquisition, demolition and closing costs involving seven homes in Fort Washington with six of them located on Piscataway Dr. The actual acquisition number, which is just the amount set aside for purely purchasing the condemned homes, is around $2,546,000 for the seven homes involved. The amount each homeowner will be offered depends on the appraisal, Hudson said. However if you were to divide that amount evenly, that's around $364,000 for each home, some of which have mortgages at more than $500,000.

Cullen told WUSA9 the county is providing around $675,000 for acquisition with FEMA picking up the rest of the tab. The rest of the money is going towards road repair, closing costs, to secure the land and the demolition costs mentioned before.

When it comes to the appraisal, Cullen was also frustrated and said he believes there is incorrect information in the county's appraisal of his property. The price offered on Tuesday, he said, is no-where near enough with his family now scraping to get by.

"The county caused it and we would just like them to have the discussion with us and start working towards it so everybody can get their lives back," he said.

The Prince George's County Spokesperson said there's some room for negotiating, but not much. Cullen said they were told differently by a consultant operating for the county.


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