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Another sinkhole forms on block already under repairs - abc27 WHTM

Another sinkhole forms on block already under repairs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Déjà vu? Not quite. Another sinkhole formed early Monday morning on a Harrisburg block plagued with recent sinkholes. One previously evacuated family was forced out of their home again due to a fire.

Stephanie Murray saw the commotion outside her front door, but she figured crews were working to repair sinkholes from two weeks ago. McMurray was unaware a new, gaping sinkhole opened outside her home.

"Oh really? I didn't know that," she said. "Another sinkhole...oh, lord. World's coming to an end."

The genesis of this revelation began with a water main break Monday around 7 a.m., according to officials with Capital Region Water (CRW), formerly known as The Harrisburg Authority (THA). By lunchtime, the leak was repaired and the sinkhole was back-filled with gravel for the time being.

CRW Executive Director Shannon Williams said crews are in the process of replacing a water main that caused three sinkholes two weeks ago. She said the original pipe that dated back to 1959, had sprung a few leaks that formed the void underground. Williams said engineers and soil experts were helping repair the infrastructure underground.

"One of the things we're focused is trying to figure out where the water is going, where the sentiment is going so we don't have this in the future," she said.

Williams and CRW spokesman Andrew Bliss posted "Boil Water Advisory" notices on residents' doors and spoke with several people individually who had questions or concerns.

Williams said repairs and repaving of S. 14th St. will cost around $285,000, less than first expected. However, the bill begins to rack up if other sinkholes begin to form around the city.

CRW said Sunday's cold weather combined with Monday's warm up could have been a reason for the water main break. Crews discovered it was not caused by fire hydrants following a fire on this block overnight.

Antonio Eubanks and Sheena Mosely spoke with abc27 when their front lawn was swallowed by the first sinkhole. Their property sustained the most damage and the family of four was forced to evacuate at that time. Sunday night, Eubanks said rain water seeped into their home and dripped on their electrical breaker panel. Mosley smelled smoked and went to investigate.

"She saw sparks coming from the breaker box," he said.

Eubanks called the fire department and flames were quickly extinguished. He said the Red Cross helped the family stay in a hotel overnight. However, when they returned home Monday morning they said they could not believe seeing yet another sinkhole.

"How much can we take?" he said. "We've been dealing with it and having four kids...it's frustrating. But, we're living with it."

Chalking the situation up to bad luck would not begin to describe the disorientation many have felt in this neighborhood recently. Many still remember the day when a SUV was swallowed by a sinkhole on this very block in February 2007. Many in this immediate area have witnessed the deterioration of Bishop A.E. Sullivan's church on 12th and Magnolia since at least 2009. In February of this year, that opera's final act came to a crescendo when the Victory Outreach Church partially collapsed, evacuating more than 15 residents.

A subsequent legal battle delayed demolition, prolonging people's return home. Demolition seemed only half way done when this article was written.

A few homes around 13th and Magnolia were set ablaze several days after the church collapse. A sinkhole formed in the middle of the street next to the crumbling church. Of course, now 14th and Magnolia are battling their own game of whack-a-sinkhole.

This is a community with broad shoulders. Now, collectively shrugged in waxing hopelessness.

"[I am] frustrated!" yelled McMurray. "It's nerve racking, it's frustrating. It's...I'm trying to be Christian about this, ya know—I really am. I'm trying to be understanding. It's really starting to get on my nerves now."

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