United States senators don't usually pay attention to basement repair. But in the Buffalo, N.Y., suburb of Amherst, cracked and buckled basements have drawn the notice of Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, U.S. Representative Thomas Reynolds, and, urged on by the politicians, the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Buffalo News says 500 basements in Amherst are in trouble. In February, the New York Times treated the story like a natural disaster. "Hundreds of houses here are sinking into the earth," said the Times. "The effect is that of a slow-motion earthquake: Basement floors heave upward, supporting beams twist perilously and rooms...

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