LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) — Officials continue to keep a close eye on a devastating sinkhole that swallowed two homes in Land O’ Lakes on Friday.
On Saturday morning, officials said there had been no sinkhole movement for about 15 hours. They are still monitoring the neighborhood where it happened.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco asked for prayers for the families affected by the sinkhole on Friday night.
Authorities were scrambling all day Friday to keep nearly a dozen homes safe as the depression, which is 50-feet deep and 225-feet in diameter, moved toward a nearby lake.
“The hole itself appears to now be dormant,” said Kevin Guthrie, Assistant County Administrator. “We have not had any significant movement in the last hour and a half.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Pasco officials said a third home was threatened by the large depression.
“I ask that everybody out there please pray for the people in this community right now because as they go to bed tonight, I don’t know if they will be able to sleep,” Sheriff Nocco said.
For that reason, deputies will be patrolling the area overnight into Saturday in case uneasy residents hear bumps in the night and more evacuations need to be in place.
“This is really Pasco at its finest, coming together in this very tough situation were our hearts are bleeding right now for the families right now. Basically, their lives have been destroyed,” said Sheriff Nocco.
Guthrie said this was the biggest sinkhole his colleagues have seen in nearly 30 years.
The sinkhole began as a much smaller hole hours earlier.
At 7:21 a.m. on Friday, 911 dispatchers received a call about a boat that was falling into a hole that had formed at 21825 Ocean Pine Drive in Land O’ Lakes.
Firefighters arrived at the residence at 7:36 to discover the boat was already submerged in the sinkhole and the sinkhole was moving toward the house. Firefighters managed to rescue two dogs from inside the home.
Dramatic video shows the home collapsing into the hole.
One hour later, part of the neighboring home at 21835 Ocean Pine Drive also fell into the sinkhole. Residents were inside the home, but managed to get out safely.
“For the most part, they lost everything,” said Pasco County Rescue Fire Chief Shawn Whited, who was surprised at how quickly the sinkhole developed.
“This is something we’ve never seen before,” he said.
A deputy ran into the second house to rescue an elderly woman and two younger women.
“As the rest of the house started crumbling, large chunks, 10, 15 feet across, would hit the water within seconds, just gone,” said Deputy Jason Murphy.
“Things started collapsing on their side and then their boat sinked, and their boat was next to ours, and then ours starting falling,” said resident Anabel Padron. “There is no house left now. We still have it, but we don’t know if it’s going to last.”
Multiple state agencies, including the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the State Department of Environmental Health were on the scene to assess the sinkhole. Officials said Friday evening that the governor has not declared this a state of emergency and that the county is prepared to handle this disaster financially.
The area is now considered a hazmat site, because of a ruptured septic tank and chemicals inside the houses.
A State geologist verified the sinkhole is active and still growing. They’ve asked Pasco authorities to evacuate the area between the sinkhole and a nearby lake because the sinkhole is moving toward the lake. Authorities are also concerned three to four septic tanks will start merging with the lake if the sinkhole is not contained in time. The lake has also been closed to boaters.
Authorities initially said 11 homes were in danger Friday morning. That number grew to 12 homes by the afternoon. Eleven homes in total were evacuated. Residents will not be allowed to enter their homes until they’ve been determined to be safe.
Authorities have not been able to contact residents in two other homes. Notices have been placed on the doors of those homes.
Authorities have also notified other people living in the area that the sinkhole is active and they could be forced to evacuate at any time.
The Red Cross will be assisting evacuated residents who need a place to stay. Residents impacted by the sinkholes can also contact the Pasco County Human Services Department at (727) 847-2411.
The neighborhood has been closed off to non-residents. Pasco Emergency Management is expected to set up a perimeter blocking the area where the sinkhole continues to grow. Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has set up checkpoints for residents to provide proof of address before they’ll be allowed in. The checkpoints are located at:
- Cloverleaf and Pine
- Grove and Pine
- Lake Padgett Dr. and Ocean Pines Dr.
Guthrie said that geologists and county crews are expected to be in the area for the next few weeks.
Authorities say a sinkhole had previously been fixed at the home located at 21835 Ocean Pine Drive. WFLA News Channel 8 did some digging and found that the home was also sold in 2015 as a “repaired” home. Authorities say it’s unclear at this time if the affected homes have sinkhole insurance.
Stay with WFLA.com for updates about this breaking story.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SINKHOLES
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