Crews successfully remove valuables from Land O’ Lakes sinkhole

LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) — Several valuable items that were inside the homes swallowed by a sinkhole in Land O’ Lakes have been returned to the homeowners.

Officials say a large amount of money, important paperwork and a computer were recovered from one of the two homes that were swallowed by the sinkhole back on July 14.

Assistant County Administrator Kevin Guthrie says finding and recovering the items was satisfying.

“Most of you have been out there with me the past 25 days and I just said, ‘There’s no way we’re going to recover anything out of that house,'” Guthrie said on Tuesday.

He credited Pasco County Fire Rescue crews, saying they have been working diligently, using a long pole and doing shoring and rigging to see what items they could reach through windows and grab.

“They’ve been doing that since Saturday,” Guthrie said. “Those guys, my hats off to them. They did a phenomenal job.”

A crew with Grubbs Emergency Services has also been helping, using a boat and a mini excavator to retrieve items from the homes.

Guthrie said the families have been telling county officials and crews what valuable items they had inside their homes and where they were located.

The significant sum of cash was found in a freezer in one of the homes. A Ziploc bag of money had also gotten loose and was pulled from the water by a worker.

The computer was found inside the same house, underneath the collapsed roof. According to Guthrie, the county received an email from the family Monday night saying the computer fired right up.

Crews also returned a file cabinet with important documents to the family. Guthrie says rain did cause some water damage to the valuables, but the documents were recoverable.

All of the debris that is removed from the sinkhole will now go to a landfill where it will be separated and spread out onto the ground for homeowners to sift through and look for any other items of value.

County administrators are currently starting to meet to discuss how to move forward with the sinkhole.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Guthrie said debris and water removal could be done as early as Monday thanks to the hard work being done by the contractors.

Guthrie also said the county expects to come in well under budget for filling the hole and contractor services.

Meanwhile, a family who lives close to the hole is worried that their home has not been condemned.

Dylan Denzik said he is afraid to have his family stay in the home they just purchased eight months ago on Canal Place.

Picture frames have fallen off walls since the massive sinkhole opened weeks ago. The view of the hole from their backyard has him worried about safety.

“We just don’t feel comfortable here,” he said. “We can never come back to this house and feel comfortable with our 18-month-old daughter playing over here.”

Testing was done Tuesday to determine ground stability, but so far, county officials have not found visible issues with Denzik’s home, even though the house next door was condemned.

Insurance attorneys advise the Denziks to get a second opinion if testing shows no problems. If the home is condemned mandatory insurance, under state law, kicks in. If it is not condemned, the homeowners will be on their own.

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