Giant sinkhole keeps residents out of homes

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - December 8, 2011

Many of them are afraid they may not be home for Christmas.

Residents of three homes in the 2200 block of Irma Drive stood outside and watched as crews filled in a giant sinkhole in what had been their front yards.

They had to stand outside, because they were not allowed inside their houses.

Engineers still aren't sure if they are safe, after water from an apparent water main break washed the dirt out from under their foundations Monday.

Michael Smith noticed a problem when he stepped out his front door Monday morning.

"I heard the water first, and then as I am looking down towards the water, I'm seeing this hole opening up five feet aware from my front door," described Michael Smith.

Wendy Almanzar, who lives next door, was at home with her 18-month-old son. She and her fiancé had just bought the house and moved in March.

"They were knocking at the back door and front door, and then I opened the front door and I saw the hole, and the water guy was yelling at me to get out of the house," explained Wendy Almanzar.

Wendy called her fiancé, who rushed home from work in time to watch the sinkhole grow and grow.

"At first, I would say it was about 6 feet wide, and then a couple hours later, we were looking at about 10 feet wide, and then eventually it worked its way towards my property," said Christian Diaz.

In a phone interview, David Brong, Director of the Bethlehem Water Department, said the main had been checked for leaks just one week ago. And when it was removed, it wasn't corroded.

His theory: "There may be something going on under the earth's surface that compromised the line."

For now, the plan is to continue to fill the giant sinkhole with dirt, rocks and cement to try and stabilize the houses. The hope is that residents would be able to move back into their homes by Christmas.

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