The sinkholes began appearing around pond in Wynchase, Ocala on the night of April 25, 2018, but have continued forming over the last two weeks. Now they are 12 huge craters… And they are moving closer to houses. Baffled engineers are carrying out tests (without any success yet) and the retention pond has now been drained.
A dozen sinkholes have opened up in a Florida city, forcing eight homes to be evacuated and prompting fears from other residents they will be the next to leave.
The holes began appearing around a retention pond in the Wynchase neighborhood of Ocala on the night of April 25, and have carried on caving in over the last two weeks for a currently unknown reason.
‘They just keep coming,‘ local resident Maren Pinder told WFTV. ‘Are we safe? We don’t know. It’s really scary. We just have a bag ready in case we are told to evacuate.‘
The holes began appearing on the evening of April 25, and by the following day around eight could be seen. By this Tuesday there were 12, and they are beginning to move nearer to houses, according to local man Eddie Betaseourt.
‘It’s crazy, I got kids in the house and I want them to play in the backyard, but if a sinkhole opens up, they could get hurt or even disappear underground…‘ he told WCJB.
One video posted by the fire department last week showed a sinkhole close to the pond opening up and filling with water. The pond has now been drained and engineers are carrying out tests to understand what has caused the collapses.
Richard Morang told the Click Orlando he heard strange ‘popping’ noises as the holes opened up, causing the tiles in his bathroom to crack.
The Ocala Fire Rescue department said on Wednesday they thought the holes were linked to a ‘water main break‘, but the collapses have multiplied since then. The Police Department said: ‘At this time there is only one building that’s been affected by the evacuations, but of course if they’re additional sinkholes that pop up in other areas that put a particular building at risk, those will be evacuated as well.‘
Sinkholes are caused by water flowing through channels below ground and eroding away soil or soft rock like limestone. And Ocala is no stranger to sinkholes, with the latest rash of them opening up in 2012.
As the earth is carried into other parts of the ground large caverns can open up, usually unbeknownst to the authorities or the people living above them. Once the cavern cannot support the weight of the topsoil above it, it collapses into the ground. Sinkholes are depressions at the ground surface caused by the collapse of overlying chalk or superficial deposits into underground voids created by dissolution.
And as shown in this map sinkhole-prone areas are widespread in the USA.