Allentown family running out of time to save home after sinkhole forms

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- It was two days after Christmas 2020 when a water main burst near Devonshire Road in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Neighbors said the water flowed like a river for days.

Laura Zimmerman's home, which she shared with her 86-year-old mother, was among the hardest hit. She said a sinkhole developed and compromised the home's structural integrity.

Zimmerman said the situation is not getting any better.

"The house could still sink," she said. "It's still falling as further soil erosion around the house continues."

Zimmerman said she still has no idea when, or if, she and her mom will be allowed to go back home.

She says her homeowner's insurance policy does include coverage for sinkholes, but she quickly learned that not all sinkholes are alike.

"Our sinkhole apparently doesn't meet their requirements or standards. I am looking for help. I have sinkhole insurance, and I have sinkholes," Zimmerman said.

Now, as the Lehigh County Authority and the insurance company squabble about whether the water main break caused the sinkhole, time is running out for Zimmerman and her mom because the policy is set to expire in about two months.

Zimmerman admits that she is preparing for the worst.

"The house is pretty much packed up," she said. "We've got some stuff in storage. We are still going through things because I don't know if I will ever be able to come back to my home."

Both women are retired and living on a fixed income. Losing their home with nothing to show for it would result in serious financial hardship.

Action News did reach out to Zimmerman's insurance carrier to better understand why that sinkhole doesn't match up with her policy. We had not yet heard back.
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