After spending five weeks in a hotel room with his wife and three cats, Jim Zitzer is moving back into his home of 26 years on 26th Street in Charles Village where a road collapse forced 19 families to evacuate.
"My wife still works so she had to drive 22 miles down to Harbor East. She only had a two-mile drive from here,” said Zitzer, “but you start staring at the walls after a while."
Eleven of the 19 displaced families will have to wait an additional day before returning so their homes can be tested for radon gas.
"It was a request made by a couple of the residents and we kind of gave them the opportunity,” said Deputy Housing Commissioner Reggie Scriber, “The mayor said, 'OK, if you want this done, we'll do it.' We don't really see a danger here to be frank with you, but this is all precautionary, and as a result of the precautionary measures, we're taking every avenue we can to make sure residents feel safe."
Work continues to rebuild the street and the retaining wall above the railroad tracks as part of an $18 million project, and the city has spared no expense in an effort to make people who live here feel whole again.
"New water, sewer, a new gas line... so they have all new amenities, new utilities," said Transportation Spokesperson Adrienne Barnes.
They have also inspected the homes and their appliances to make sure they're safe.
With the exception of a break in at his home in which nothing was taken and a great deal of dust from the ongoing work outside, Jim Zitzer says the city has stepped up to accommodate residents through a very unsettling ordeal.
"They've all been very, very helpful,” said Zitzer, “Of course that doesn't take away from the fact that there's city negligence or CSX causes. That's to be determined, but as far as the city actually helping the residents and all---I feel very good about that."
Work is expected to continue just outside their front doors for another six to eight months.