Evacuees near Ephrata sinkhole can return home Thursday

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EPHRATA, Pa. - More than three weeks after a sinkhole ripped open in a residential neighborhood, residents who were evacuated from an apartment building will be allowed to return home.

Those residents at the apartment building on the corner of Pine Street and Park Avenue will be able to return Thursday at noon.

A structural engineering firm has inspected the area and found no structural damage, according to Ephrata police Chief Bill Harvey.

"We've had a lot of people come in to do it right, do it right the first time," he said. "It has been slow and methodical."

Officials say normal sanitary service has returned to the apartments.

Some neighbors have heard that some of the residents are not keen on returning to the apartments.

"They don't seem like they're too anxious to get in there," neighbor Jack Smith said.

Others are hoping for the best.

Borough officials "know what they're doing, they know how everything is," neighbor Lucille Dinger said. "It was really bad, the ceilings down, the water had a water leak."

The borough says as far as it can tell, things can go back to normal.

"They have [sinkholes] in Dauphin County, they've had them all over," Harvey said. "This particular area has been inspected and appears to be solid."

Construction crews are still expected on-scene for at least the next few days.

"Should the rain abate and things move in the direction, I think we'll be back to a new state of normal sometime middle of maybe not next week but the week thereafter," Harvey said. "So hopefully, we'll have this taken care of as progressively as possible."

The crews will move the fence so the residents can enter the building through the back door, as the front door will be barricaded. Crews will continue to work on the sinkhole, and they're hoping to start paving the middle of next week.