Harrisburg sinkhole victims hope for help from FEMA

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The city of Harrisburg is looking for help for the dozens of people living with a high risk of sinkholes on South 14th Street.

Officials updated neighbors at the Public Works meeting on Monday night. The families who live on the 1400 block of South 14th, where sinkholes opened up earlier this year, say it's taking its toll.

"It's like living in hell, it's scary, you have to sleep with one eye open," says neighbor Vonda Evans.

Her neighbor, Donnie Graves, says his kids are scared of the cracks they can see in their home's walls.

"They want to stay at their grandparents', they don't want to stay at home because they don't know what could happen, and it's really affecting them," he says.

City officials told neighbors how to apply for a Catastophic Loss designation from Dauphin County, so they can have their homes re-assessed, and their taxes lowered.

They are applying for emergency funds totaling $4 million from PEMA and FEMA. They're hoping the federal government will buy the homes so residents can get out.

But officials say FEMA has not granted disaster relief to sinkhole victims before.

"We're pushing and we're fighting and we're saying that this is every bit as important as a tornado or a flood, and so they are looking at our application the same as they would for any other disaster," says Jackie Parker, the city's director of community and economic development.