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Growing number of sinkholes threaten Ocala homes

Crews working for 3 days trying to figure out how to repair damage

OCALA, Fla. – It's been three days of digging, drilling and assessing, and engineers still don't have an answer as to why sinkholes continue to pop up and plague one Ocala neighborhood. 

On Wednesday, families from eight town homes had to evacuate after several sinkholes began opening up like "explosions" they said in the retention pond behind their Wynchase Townhomes at Fore Ranch. 

Since then, several new sinkholes have opened up. One in the middle of the street, blocking the main entrance to the subdivision. The sinkholes have drained the pond, revealing four more sinkholes where some fish are still flopping inside.

Residents say they are worried their homes could be in danger. 

"It just keeps getting bigger and as the lake drains you see more holes underneath there," said Marin Erinder, who also lives in Wynchase. "It's scary. Its really scary."

The Leland Property Management group sent residents of Fore Chase an email late Friday afternoon letting them know two engineering companies have been hired to fix the problem. 

Crews with those companies Friday said they are still trying to figure out the cause of the sinkholes. They say there was a water main break but don't know if the leak cause the sinkholes or if the sinkholes caused the leak. 

Still, they had several teams out using what they call a ground penetrating radar going down as deep as 80 to 100-feet to find a cause and a solution to the problem. 

There was also a worker pushing a radar above ground checking for any divots near other town homes, right around where Erinder lives. 

"It's very close, just on the other side of the street," Erinder said. 

She also said it isn't the first time this has happened. Back in 2012, in the very same spot, a 100-foot sinkhole opened up. Back then, she said the price to fix it fell back on the homeowners. 

"That's what my question is," Erinder asked. "The homeowners were required to pay to fix the sinkhole, we had an extra fee on our HOAs (homeowners associations) for six months and me and the other residents are wondering if this is something we will have to pay for."

According to an email sent to residents, these sinkholes are too big for HOAs to cover.

"We do expect that we will have to asses the residents to help pay for the sinkholes," the email read. "We will not know hat the fees will be until we have a repair estimate."
 
The letter said the property management does intend to spread the fee over a series of payments to allow residents to pay a monthly fee versus one lump sum charge. 

However, before they even get to that point, officials need to figure out what the problem is and how they plan to fix it. 

Read the letter the property management sent to residents answering many of their questions, here.


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