(NEW YORK) — Residents in a central Florida neighborhood have been forced to evacuate due to massive sinkholes that have formed over the last week.
At least a dozen sinkholes have been reported in the Wynchase neighborhood of Ocala, Florida, about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, according to local media reports. The holes have been forming around a retention pond.
Residents from at least eight homes close to the pond were evacuated, with no clear indication of when they might be able to return home, according to ABC affiliate WFTV.
One resident, Maren Pinder, said the holes just seem to keep popping and they’re getting larger and larger. It’s put the entire community on edge, she said.
“They just keep coming,” Pinder told WFTV on Tuesday. “Are we safe? We don’t know. It’s really scary.
“We just have a bag ready in case they say, ‘Yeah, you need to evacuate,’ we can just grab it and get out.”
The Ocala Fire Rescue department said it responded to the Fore Ranch subdivision in Wynchase last Wednesday to investigate reports of large holes opening up on the shore of the retention pond.
“The cause may be linked to a private irrigation water main break. Units adjacent to the area have been evacuated as a safety precaution,” the department said in a statement last Wednesday, but the holes have multiplied and some have overlapped and/or intersected since then.
The city’s engineer and the Emergency Management Department said they’re investigating the occurrence, with hopes of figuring out a how to fill in the sinkholes and keep them from developing again.
It’s a case of deja vu for some Ocala residents, though. The town’s homeowners association paid thousands of dollars to fill multiple sinkholes back in in 2012, according to WFTV, but officials estimate that the problem could more costly this time around.
They said the holes can’t be filled until they know the ground has settled.
Shannon Cole, who had to vacate his unit, said complained that officials hadn’t given residents enough information about what’s going on.
“We have not received any answers,” Cole, who is currently living with his parents, told local media outlet Ocala.com. “I’m going to have to find somewhere [to live] soon.”
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