VALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) –
Flooding fears came true for one neighborhood in Valrico Thursday afternoon. A depression opened up on Copper Canyon Drive. Homeowners, who lived just inches away, were evacuated. They were given eight minutes to get out of the house.
Yolanda Altreche and her husband Rafael left with the clothes on their back. “It’s heartbreaking. You know, I’m with the clothes I have on and I put on the first thing I found, so you can imagine,” Yolanda said.
Neighbor Kimmy Dunn panicked when her husband nearly fell in as he was planting palm trees. “We got the flashlights. It was so dark. That’s how deep it went. We couldn’t see the end of it, and it went straight underneath the house,” she said.
Dunn said her husband Denis plunged right into the Earth. “It went about, I don’t know, maybe to there,” she said as she pointed to her shin. “And then, that’s when they started poking and that’s not normal, and then it just caved in.”
The depression was so intense that firefighters from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue tied themselves to a tree so that if they fell in, they could get out quickly. “You hear stories about people disappearing into them,” Dunn said.
Altreche’s cat Morris was rescued by firefighters just in the nick of time. He was scared and shaking, but they were relieved when they saw him safe.
Geotechnical engineers have been called in to assess the damage Friday. The homeowners claim they filed an insurance claim on the home, citing sinkholes, in January. They tell 8 On Your Side the insurance company denied the claim.