Sinkhole in Allentown causing deep problems

by Michael Mosher on July 29, 2012

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Several Allentown families are out of their homes after a sinkhole formed underneath their street. According to Fire Chief Robert Scheirer, a homeowner discovered the sinkhole around 1:00 Saturday afternoon under 820 1/2 North Fifth Street. Now, the fire department has evacuated eight families, while engineering crews try to assess just how bad the situation is.

“They were trying to get in, banging on the door, and that’s when I realized that something was going on,” said resident Sabrina Cobb, who was in the shower when police evacuated her.

Resident Darlene Adams added: “They want to get everybody out in case it does fall in.”

Brenda DeJesus, who lives next to the sinkhole, said neighbors immediately noticed severe cracking on their homes.

“We realized that people couldn’t open their doors, they couldn’t close them, and that there was cracks everywhere,” she said.

According to Scheirer, after a neighbor heard water running underneath the home for several days, the owner discovered the part of the basement had caved in.

He said initial examinations are hopeful.

“Looking at the initial damage, I don’t believe the homes are going to have to be condemned,” said Scheirer. “At this point, I believe they’ll be able to be shored up and repaired.”

Engineers will send a robotic camera down to see how deep the hole is, and also test for how fast it’s spreading. But that could take much of the weekend. Meantime, the Red Cross is helping families find places to stay.

“As long as we’re all out, nobody’s getting hurt, property — that’s material stuff,” said DeJesus.

Crews said, once the engineering assessment is complete, they will attempt to fill the sinkhole with concrete.

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