Harrisburg residents ready to move on from sinkhole crisis

File photo of a sinkhole on South 14th Street in March 2014.
File photo of a sinkhole on South 14th Street in March 2014.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Chirps of crickets echo off boarded-up homes with broken windows.

Children’s toys strewn about lawns are hidden by overgrown weeds and grass.

The 1400 block of South 14th Street appears to be a setting for a post-apocalyptic film.

It has been Rhonda Scott’s reality for the past 29 months.

“It’s crazy how you can’t do anything really,” she said. “Life is just cut off.”

Scott’s home is one of 25 the city will acquire and demolish with a $1.65 million grant the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved last week.

“I see sadness,” Scott said. “This street was vibrant.”

Evidence of warm, loving homes remains in rotting wood and rusted grills. Scott has lived in her home since 1987 and always enjoyed being friendly with the neighbors.

She said ever since a sinkhole opened in March 2014, the now-abandoned block has been very lonely.

“It’s sad to see this whole neighborhood go from vibrancy down to eerie,” she said.

The path to funding has not been easy. Frustrated residents have long demanded answers and pleaded with leaders for help.

Officials are still working to obtain about $3.3 million in additional funds to cover remaining homes that are part of the project. About 52 houses are in the affected area.

Once the homes are demolished, the site will be excavated and turned into green space.

“I would be scared to come over here and have a picnic,” Scott said. “Only because I know what’s under the street.”

She said her home is over a partial void. City Engineer Wayne Martin said surface conditions have been deemed “severe.”

Scott is living in danger and knows she must relocate. Before the funding, she had few options.

The city will hold a special meeting at the Mount Olive Church, at 1331 S. 14th St., on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Martin said the city will answer questions and possibly discuss a project timeline.

“I don’t want to move, but I will,” Scott said. “I’m glad they finally are able to at least start demolishing some of the houses and getting people on a track to uproot their life and move on.”

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