Our family has called the Riverwards, specifically Fishtown and Port Richmond, home for generations. We’ve always believed this is a wonderful area to live with a great sense of community. This past weekend my grandparents’ home, where they lived for more than 60 years, was destroyed. My grandmother is 94 and has lost all of her and her late husband’s belongings, including their home — one of the few things she still recognizes. Construction being performed at a neighboring property compromised the integrity of her home. The damage was so extensive it required immediate demolition of both the neighboring home as well as my grandparents’ home.
My grandparents’ home was the nucleus of our family. We gathered every Sunday, for birthdays, graduations, sporting events, new jobs and often ‘just because’ — just because we knew someone would be there. My grandparents had 10 children so someone was always there. Their home was our first stop after the birth of both of my children on the way home from the hospital. I remember as a child raiding my mom’s Christmas stocking, which hung on the mantel every year; even after her passing, I could count on that stocking being there at Christmas. Those stockings and that mantle are gone — somewhere in a pile of rubble with many other artifacts accumulated over 60 years of living and building a home. These things can’t be replaced.
It was surreal to watch the home where we built so many memories collapse right in front of us. Our family is lucky to have a strong support system, comprised of family and a community acutely aware that this could have happened to any one of us.
It’s hard to know exactly what would have prevented this situation, but the community, the city, and state need to take measures to ensure this does not happen again. It’s time to impose harsher consequences on the types of unscrupulous behavior that lead to this tragedy. Implementation of changes that target those driving this behavior as well as those performing the work could include:
My family and I urge our city and state leaders use this tragedy as a catalyst to implement change to protect our residents, especially the most vulnerable, like my grandmother. As for our family, we are focused on rebuilding the home that once stood within this great community and housed all our family memories. This unfortunate event has brought Fishtowners together, old and new, as one community to support my grandmother. We are appreciative of this. This camaraderie is a reminder of why our family has chosen to call this area home and why we don’t fault others for wanting to do the same.