Sinkholes open in The Villages, threaten homes

Largest hole measures about 20 feet across

THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Several sinkholes, the largest of which is nearly 20 feet across and 35 feet deep, are threatening at least two homes in The Villages, officials said.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said Thursday the holes opened at 17092 SE 79th McLawren Terrace.

"I have a sinkhole, my house is falling. I hear all the creaking noise and I look out and there is a great big hole in the front of my house," the homeowner told a 911 operator. 

At 8 a.m., Marion County deputies counted three sinkholes total, but by 4 p.m., officials said a fourth had opened up with the largest hole sinking and condemning two homes and threatening two others, including the home of Marilyn Riccio. 

"My neighbor right here called me, she just said that there is a massive sinkhole and you have to evacuate," Riccio said. "It happened pretty fast."

Deputies said utilities to four homes near the largest hole have been disconnected for the safety of emergency management officials, who are investigating.

One of the sinkholes reaches far underneath a house, which has visible cracks in it, officials said.

"It was a real surprise because I thought it was thunder, but here it was the rumbling, homeowner Frank Newman. Newman was evacuated from his home 

"It was a real surprise because I thought it was thunder, but here it was the rumbling," homeowner Frank Newman said. Newman was evacuated from his home.

Newman told News 6 that he spoke to a female neighbor who called 911 after the rumbling began.

"She got scared cause she could see a tree bending over in the front and then she looked out and saw the hole, so she knew she couldn't go out of that," Newman said.

Deputies said workers at a nearby golf course are trying to drain a man-made lake to help the situation.

"It's just a waiting game to find out what they are going to do to treat the sinkholes," Riccio said. "I hope they can fix it."

By Friday morning, the sinkholes had not grown any larger in size but they were still threatening homes. Two of the homes are too unstable to live in and the other two are still being evaluated.

Geologists are attempting to conduct a geological survey but the instability of the sinkholes is making that task difficult.


**UPDATE** Crews tell us that the sinkholes have stopped spreading. They are still working on making sure that the underground survey is complete with the hopes of allowing the residents that were indirectly affected to return to their homes. 2 homes remain condemned at this time. SINKHOLES IN THE VILLAGES The Marion County Sheriff's Office and Marion County Emergency Management are currently on scene at 17092 SE 79th McLawren Terrace in The Villages in reference to several sinkholes that have opened up and are threatening two residences. The largest of the three holes is about 35 foot deep by 18 feet across. Utilities to the four homes closest to the hole have been disconnected for the safety of emergency management officials. It appears to be isolated to these two homes with one of the sinkholes reaching far underneath the home. Golf course officials are now trying to drain the man-made lake to help the situation. Utilities officials tell us that should a water main break during this incident, they will be able to handle that...however, 20 homes could potentially lose water service if that happens. We will continue to keep you updated on this incident as it develops.

Posted by Marion County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, February 15, 2018

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