BLACK HAWK — Hideaway Hills homeowners Lori Kiehn and Albert Reitz are grateful for the disaster relief funds they received from Catholic Social Services and three other foundations in December.

The Catholic Social Services Disaster Relief Department,  with additional funding provided by the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, the South Dakota Community Foundation and Catholic Charities USA, raised $20,000 that was distributed among 12 homeowners.  All of their homes are uninhabitable due to a large sinkhole created by the collapse of an abandoned gypsum mine beneath their Black Hawk subdivision in April 2020.

Kiehn said she was thankful and appreciative for the funds.

“It has been very helpful,” said Kiehn of the donation.

Kiehn said she and Reitz, her fiancé, were contacted this past summer by Catholic Social Services and told the agency wanted to raise money for the evacuated homeowners. She said they also offered counseling services to each household.

“For us being a two-person household, we really didn’t expect anything. It was a surprise and very much appreciated,” Kiehn said.

Kiehn and Reitz have used the gift of money toward covering costs they have incurred since they evacuated.

“To know people care and they want to be able to do something to help is very humbling,” she said.

Kiehn said she wishes the entities responsible for the whole Hideaway Hills fiasco would take a cue from helping agencies such as Catholic Social Services to step up and do the right thing.

She said the status of their situation remains the same with no resolution in sight.

Knights of Columbus volunteers Paul Yantes, Ernie Garcia, Jeffrey Meyers, Thomas Collings and John Gehlsen were trained as disaster case managers by former CSS Disaster director Leon Lunders for the project.

“These families have not only lost their homes, some are still tied to the mortgage, while most have lost the equity in their property,” CSS executive director Jim Kinyon said. “We know these funds are appreciated, but we also know that they will not make these families whole. We wish them well in their pursuit of justice and wish we were in a position to do more to let them know of our support and concern.”

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