Sinkholes continue to devour Florida community: VIDEO
Thursday, May 3, 2018, 8:55 AM - Additional sinkholes have formed in an Ocala neighborhood that faced evacuations last week after the depressions began devouring land near their homes. 8 units of the townhouse complex remain evacuated; the homes deemed unsafe to inhabit by City of Ocala geo-engineers. Additional residents have left of their own accord, as the total number of sinkholes now stands between 12 and 15, some as wide as 25 feet across.
Caution tape now surrounds pits of varying sizes around the property. The retention pond that provided some of the early warning signs that something was about to happen now stands completely dry, all of the water having drained into the opening holes. While the large holes are impressive, geo-engineers are worried that some of the smaller holes may be harbingers of something much worse.
While testing continues to determine the extent of the problem, holes opening on both sides of the evacuated row of homes have engineers worried that the entire area may be at risk of collapsing. Reporter Bob Hazen with WESH 2 News has more.
Remarkable video of water spontaneously fountaining upward in a retaining pond on the property was captured last week, shortly before at least four holes opened up nearby.
Resident Shannon Cole told local news he saw the water in the pond "bubbling and swirling." As they watched the odd display, Cole said, "we felt the ground get a little squishy so we got very alarmed and went to the top of the hill."
MUST SEE: Water spouts upward, ducks narrowly avoid whirlpool
Ocala Fire Rescue and Ocala Police instructed those living nearest the sinkholes to leave their homes until they could be deemed safe by a geo-engineering company; the homes remain tagged with 'do not enter' signs a week later. "To be cautious, the city is temporarily basically declaring the building unsafe and we've evacuated the residents from the building," Sean Lanier, Ocala's City Engineer, told a local news agency.
Watch below: Water and sand roil in developing sinkhole
Ground-penetrating radar has been in use to determine the extent of the underground subsidence, and to determine if the structures nearby are in danger. Local news reported that, while the holes were initially suspected to be the result of a break in an irrigation system, the holes are likely unrelated and may have actually caused the break.
Only a day after the initial sinkhole appeared, the terrain was nearly unrecognizable, as sinkholes continued to grow and develop around and under the pond, draining nearly all of the water.
24 hours later - unbelievable changes
Florida is no stranger to sinkholes, with more occurring there than any other place in the country.
The peninsula sits atop limestone and dolostone, covered with a thin layer of sand and clay, all of which transmit and store groundwater. Chemical processes between the water and the carbonate rock cause the rock to dissolve over time, giving rise to what's known as 'karst terrain' - land characterized by caves, springs, surface depressions, and sinkholes.