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Evacuated families assess sinkhole damage - abc27 WHTM

Evacuated families assess sinkhole damage

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PALMYRA, Pa. (WHTM) -

On Monday the nine families that were forced out of their homes in Lebanon County last week came back to assess the damage.

Multiple sinkholes opened up underneath the foundation of nine homes on the 300 block of East Cherry Street in Palmyra on Friday after the Midstate was pummeled by rain.

"The whole house shook, and it just sounded like a freight train going throughout the house. We thought it was a tornado," said Donna Dove, who was evacuated.

But it was actually one of the three sink holes. It cracked the foundation, sinking the home about three inches.

"Yeah, sinkhole insurance. You gotta have it to live in Palmyra," Dove said.

In the meantime, Dove and her fiancee are out of their home. So are Liz Stoltzfus, her husband, and their 10 kids.

"I moved here six years ago after a house fire destroyed my first house," Stoltzfus said. "Comes and goes. The tears hit me at weird times."

She said the borough is responsible for the sinkholes after installing handicap-accessible sidewalks over the summer. It was a federal mandate and a PennDOT project that was carried out by the borough.

"And it just happened to be a matter of bad timing. We had a thunderstorm that gave us about six inches of rain in about two or three hours. That's when the sinkhole at the corner of Cherry opened up initially," said Borough Manager Roger Powl.

"I've been here five and a half years. I didn't have a sinkhole before they tore up my curb and left it open for weeks. I don't think that's a coincidence," Stoltzfus said.

But borough officials said it was probably the lack of storm drains that did the damage.

"Well we're responsible for everything that occurs in the public right away, and that's really all we're responsible for. Obviously storm water drainage is part of that," said Powl. "We are trying to do what we can with limited funds that we have to try and improve our systems where we can."

Regardless, nine families are still homeless. The Stoltzfus family is being helped by the Red Cross.

"The only good thing is my little children think they're on vacation. My daughter told me this is the best vacation ever because we have to go out and eat all the time because I have no kitchen, I can't cook," Stoltzfus said.

Borough officials said there is no timeline for when the sink holes will be fixed, but they hope to start repairs on Wednesday.

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