2012-01-05 / Local & State

2 Homes May Be Lost To Sinkhole In Eastern Pa.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) –A pair of eastern Pennsylvania homes structurally damaged by a massive sinkhole may have to be demolished, and officials said Friday that they were assessing the integrity of several other homes and the possible need to exhume nearby graves threatened by the gaping maw.

About 25 residents were evacuated from a block of North 10th Street in Allentown on Thursday after the appearance of the hole, which stretched the width of the road and left sidewalks suspended in the air. It's about 20 feet deep, according to the Express Times newspaper of Easton.

City officials are unclear whether a water main break caused the gaping hole, or if a pre- existing sinkhole caused the main to break.

Regardless of the cause, Scheirer said it's likely that two 19th-century rowhouses will have to be razed because they have shifted badly. A final determination will be made by geologists and structural engineers, he said.

One of those homes belongs to Ed Tucker, who has not been allowed to retrieve any belongings because of the danger. He provided firefighters with a list of important possessions and where they can be found in his home of 22 years.

Water from the main break seeped underneath 54 graves in the neighboring Union and West End Cemetery, separating some of the stones from the bases. However, records indicate many of the headstones in that section of the cemetery do not actually mark graves.

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