Steve Schappell-My Blog

Thursday, May 5, 2016

That sinking feeling....

Today's blog post is more down to earth..  And by down to earth, I mean sinkholes...

See, I live in Palmyra, Pennsylvania.  A town built on Limestone.   In fact, we have a large limestone quarry just outside of town that employs many people.   This region where I live has a lot of limestone; but wonderful Palmyra seems to have more than it's share of Sinkholes.

I am no Geologist, but have read how water erosion underground has worn away Limestone in areas that has aided in creating Sinkholes.  When I moved to the area in 2002, I was not aware of this.  The development we were in did not require sinkhole coverage.  I got flood insurance, just in case--I knew we could get a lot of rain, and occasional effects from Tropical Storms--so I wanted to be prepared.

In 2010, I moved to my present home in Palmyra, and was told that I needed Sinkhole insurance.  In fact, it was recommended by my Realtor and the Credit Union I went through for my mortgage.   My first thought was "that's crazy."  There are no Sinkholes here.  Well, I got this added to my insurance and move in.

Move forward a year plus to September of 2011.  Tropical Storm Lee advanced to our area with tremendous flooding rains.

These images show some of the flooding the the Sinkholes that developed.  These include on on Maple Street, One at the Credit Union behind my house and Route 422 by the Bowling Alley.

As you can see, it was a real mess and took many months to repair the road and parking lot of the credit union.  The 1st photo shows the drive through of the credit union.  It was closed for 6 months while repaired.  The Rite Aid next to the CU also had a sinkhole in the parking lot only a few months after it opened.  Still today, there is a lot for sale next to the credit union.  I wonder why?  LAND FOR SALE.  MAY HAVE A SINKHOLE...  The 3rd photo down shows Maple Street.  This is a sinkhole that re-opened again after the flooding rains.

This is the street where I live.  This was not the first time, nor would it be the last time this opened up.

Now a funny aside, sort of.  When my wife moved in with her (2) boys, the plan was to have their room in the newly completed basement.  They started out this way; however, there was a news report about a house in Florida that was partially swallowed by a sinkhole, and his bedroom was in the basement and it disappeared.  Phil decided that he did not want this to happen, as we live in a town with sinkholes.  So he moved upstairs into my son's former room.  (This was one of the reasons he moved upstairs.)  And I can understand why. He thought that basement might collapse and be swallowed by a sinkhole.

Now last year in early 2015, the sinkhole opened up on Maple Street, down from our house. This was the 3rd time in a few years.  Repeated fixes by the Borough did not work.  They decided they were going to do a permanent fix.  Step one, was to "close" the road.  This meant putting up Signs that said Road Closed.  They put sawhorses around the sinkhole and hoped that people would not go on our section of Maple Street.

People are smart...or do not like change.  Since the road was not actually closed, people ignored the signs and continued to drive through.  After repeated complaints to the Borough by myself and others, they "Closed"the road this time by putting Orange Barrels across the street to the left of our house.  These were easily moved by drivers determined to go through Maple Street.  Some of us countered by putting Yellow Caution tape through the top of the Barrels and tying them to a telephone pole, and the other end to sawhorses going across a one way alley that was also closed off.

What fun it was to watch motorists fly down Maple Street and Encounter the Barrels and tape.  A lot of cars turned around in our driveway pad and peeled out back the way they came from.  Others, stopped by the cones, looked for a way around, and eventually backed up.  Others moved the barrels to go though.  I remember looking outside during a Thunderstorm last summer and watching someone get out of their car, leave the door open, and in the rain, move the barrels just so they could go through.

Eventually, fewer and fewer cars made their way on our street, as they found another way to go.  This has made for a very quiet street, especially at night.  Oh, how we enjoyed our summer and fall. Quiet nights with the windows open and no traffic.

Step 3 was more permanent.  In order to fix the Sinkhole, the Borough went with an outside contractor to build a concrete bridge below the sinkhole.  This started last Fall when they finally really closed the road, by having barriers on both sides of the sinkhole, and forcing residents, like myself, to always leave and go left on our street, and others to only go right.  Now the road was really closed, as you could not go though Maple Street anymore.

We had a quiet Winter and Spring.  However, that is all coming to an end soon.  As these photos show from a few weeks ago, there was still a lot to be done.

Well, that is now all covered up and soon the road should be paved and open again for business.  Cars going 50 plus in a 35 speed limit.  Yay.....

At least the sinkhole was in the street and not on private property, or it may never be fixed.   As the people who live on Cherry Street with the sinkholes there, affecting both their homes and the road.  It is still not fixed several years later.

Hopefully for us, our long national nightmare may soon be over....and maybe the road will not collapse again.  Well see......