Marion County, Florida – Last February 15, residents woke up to find several sinkholes that opened at 17092 SE 79th McLawren Terrace in The Villages, located around 50 miles northwest of Orlando.
According to the authorities from the Marion County Sherriff’s Office, the biggest sinkhole is almost 20 feet wide and with a depth of 35 feet. This prompted the community management to do a mandatory evacuation of four homes – two of which have become too unstable to live in while the others are still under observation.
One of the sinkholes opened outside the home of resident Frank Newman. He said he heard a noise but assumed that it was a thunder. At around 3AM, a policeman informed him to evacuate. Marilyn Riccio, another affected homeowner, said a neighbor called to inform her that there was a large sinkhole and she needed to leave. Residents were given a short time to go back to their homes to get some of their belongings. No injuries were reported.
The crews started repairing four sinkholes by Thursday. Signs were placed outside the affected homes to warn others that the houses have been condemned. One of the homes sustained visible cracks, as a sinkhole reached far beneath it. As a safety measure for the crews, utilities to the homes near the largest sinkhole were disconnected. Officials from a golf course nearby were also draining a man-made lake to help ease the situation.
The sinkholes have not grown after 24 hours. The cause is yet to be determined, but because of instability, geologists are finding it difficult to conduct a geological survey in the area.
The Villages is an adult retirement community that is home to 50,000 residents.
For more information, please watch Marion County Sheriff’s video.