Reporting Oren Liebermann
By Oren Liebermann
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (CBS) – Doris Jenkins recently put an addition on her Bethlehem Township home. Now, it seems she will need a new driveway as well.
“Hopefully, everything will be all right,” sighed Jenkins, standing near her ranch-style home.
A 20-foot sinkhole opened up at the edge of her yard, swallowing part of the driveway and the road.
Three smaller ones opened up nearby. She thought she would be out of her home for two weeks, but was allowed back in after one day.
“It’s nice to be back home, but look at the mess out there,” Jenkins said. “What can you do?”
The township says a 40-year-old sewage pipe under the road deteriorated in two different spots, eating away at the soil underneath. They have put in a temporary replacement until they can lay 600 feet of new pipe.
“We believe this part started deteriorating. We tried to put a fix on it last week. Obviously, it didn’t hold, and another leak sprung up on my left,” said Howard Kutzler, the township manager for Bethlehem.
The area’s limestone base makes the Lehigh Valley a hotspot for sinkholes. Neighbors say they are common here, but not this large and not this close.
“You expect small sinkholes,” said neighbor Louise Ambrose. “You don’t expect what happened in Florida.”
In Florida, a 50-feet-deep sinkhole was more than destructive. It was deadly when it opened up underneath a man’s home. The 37-year-old fell into the sinkhole while he was sleeping and was never found.
No one was injured in Bethlehem Township, but the sinkholes are a reminder of the danger that lurks underground.