CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Relief is coming for residents in 18 townhomes that were affected by a Christmas day sinkhole in Patton Township.

Through funding secured by State Representative Scott Conklin (D-Centre), $180,000 will be put toward affected townhomes on Amblewood Way.

“It could be in any of your neighborhoods,” said Pam Robb, Patton Township Board of Supervisors. “Any of your communities, a sinkhole could happen.”

Conklin said the new funding will help cover the costs of inspections, renovations and shelter for the residents. The money will be given to Patton Township directly, which will then decide how it gets distributed to the residents.

“This is not your normal type of RACP, it’s not your type of grant. This is something that we’re able to get out almost immediately,” Conklin said. “This is some of that discretionary money that it’s for a purpose…but it’s not defined in finite detail, so it’s able to be used for instances such as this that have occurred.”

Some residents have been able to return to Georgetown Townhomes since a sinkhole opened up in their shared parking lot. Six units still have foundation issues almost three months later, according to resident Mollie Ann Craig.

“My husband and I have been living out of our luggage at multiple temporary locations and still going to work every day,” resident Maria Truglio said.

Conklin also announced plans to introduce legislation to provide families in the future that are impacted by disasters, like sinkholes, with up to 90 days of relief. One way this would be accomplished is by allowing hotels and motels a state tax credit equal to the discounted or comped cost of a room donated to a Pennsylvania family displaced by a disaster. 

“We’re going to do legislation that will work with the hotels to allow them to either write the room off or to be able to comp rooms,” Conklin said. “Then be able to reimburse those individuals for the cost of the room as well so that if someone is displaced, then they have a place to go.”

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Now, residents are stressing the importance of checking insurance policies for sinkhole, flood and earthquake coverage.

“It’s like $100 to add that to your policies,” Craig said. “You don’t think about it, it’s not something you think about, but like Pam said, it’s important that you do that. It’ll save you a lot of frustration if something like this would happen.”