Montgomery County woman, 97, forced from home after storm drain flooding

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 28, 2010

In her 97 years, Bernice Evans has survived breast cancer, strokes and a broken pelvis.

Now she's fighting a battle that her friends and family say may be too much for her to bear: the loss of her home.

Evans was forced to leave her house two weeks ago because of flooding.

A storm drain in her Forest Glen neighborhood filled during the violent storms Aug. 12 and sent water gushing into the Silver Spring house she has called home for 50 years.

Within 24 hours, Evans's family and her caregiver had packed up some of her belongings and, with the help of the American Red Cross and Montgomery County Social Services, checked her into a hotel.

"One day you're sitting in your home, and the next day it's uninhabitable due to no negligence of your own," said Susan Monaco, a spokeswoman for Evans and her family. "It's been very frustrating."

Monaco spoke on Evans's behalf because she has had difficulty speaking since her last stroke.

The house, which had about 3 1/2 feet of water in the basement, was declared uninhabitable by Montgomery County on Friday. Evans's house is at the bottom of a hill and is the only one in the neighborhood that flooded, Monaco said.

The family has called the county. The state. Council members. Congressmen. Anyone they can think of to help Evans, better known as "Grandma Bee" in her neighborhood, restore her home to normal. Her only son lives out of state; another relative lives in the area but has a townhouse with a lot of steps.

"No one will give a return phone call," Monaco said. "No one wants to take responsibility for it."

After the flood, the family said it was told by Montgomery workers that the State Highway Administration was responsible for the blocked storm drain.

A spokesman for the state said Friday that that might not be accurate.

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