Could Midstate homes experience a sinkhole like Florida? - abc27 WHTM

Could Midstate homes experience a sinkhole like Florida?

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Images of a giant sinkhole that swallowed a Florida man alive last week have some in Harrisburg a little on edge.

"I'm terrified. Ever since that thing happened in Florida, I'm so scared," Midtown resident Jordan Pittman.

Pittman moved here last summer from Dallas and had no idea Harrisburg had more than 40 active sinkholes, including that gigantic one on 4th Street.

"That is a lot," she said. "What if we're standing on one right now and we just fall in?"

Luckily, the city says that is highly unlikely here.

"Down in Florida, you have a lot of limestone caverns where water used to flow and now it doesn't flow so now there's these voids down there that people can't see," public works director Kevin Hagerich.

Hagerich said in Harrisburg sinkholes aren't caused by the ground conditions, but by aging infrastructure.

"Either an old pipe bursting, or the sewage line separating over time from age," he said.

Since utility lines run along the road, and not under private property, Hagerich said the chance a sinkhole opening under a home is very low. Right now, however, one of the only things keeping the sinkholes from opening up, are steel grates that are nailed down over the openings in the street. He said his crews check them once a week to make sure they haven't grown larger.

"It's a band-aid fix," he said. "We asked for a loan to fix 4th Street -- we also asked for additional money to fix another one and we're just going to have to piece-meal for money and grants until we get these problems fixed."

Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey told abc27 that other parts of Pennsylvania, including Palmyra, are plagued with limestone -- much like Florida. That runs a much higher risk of sporadic sinkholes forming underneath buildings and homes.

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