Tourists visit Windermere sinkhole

May 8, 2012

The following article was published in the Channel 10 website on May 8, 2012:

Tourists visit Windermere Sinkhole

Tourists from as far away as Texas and Michigan took a break from Disney World on Monday to take photographs of a massive sinkhole that is threatening to swallow some Windermere homes.

The sinkhole, estimated to be more than 100 feet across and 50 feet deep, is located about 3 feet from the back of a home at 4926 Indian Deer Road.

Local 6 reporter Lisa Bell said tourists were taking pictures of the sinkhole after it made national news because of its size and proximity to the house.

“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. We came all the way from Texas just to check out a sinkhole,” said Mark Rankin, of Texas, who added that he was also headed to Disney.

“We’ve been to Disney before, I’ve seen that. I haven’t seen this,” said Henry Kite, of Michigan.  “It’s huge. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it was (while) looking online. I’m, like, ‘Wow.'”

The home was deemed unsafe by inspectors last week, and the family renting the house has moved out.

“We just moved in, we just got all the decorations on the wall and my wife woke me up and said there was a hole in the backyard,” Lou Lambros said. “My wife said she was hearing little pops, and when we went downstairs, she could actually hear the grass tearing apart and falling into the hole.”

A crack can be seen on the corner of the house below a window, but it’s not known if it was caused by the sinkhole.

A neighboring family also left their home, and the hole continues to grow. It has swallowed four trees and a hammock.  A fifth tree is on the edge of the hole.

Sinkhole expert Tom Wilson of Certified Foundations said the sinkhole is rare.

“This type of sinkhole is called a cover collapse and they’re quite rare,” Wilson said.

Geological engineers must test the sinkhole to see how deep the underground cavity runs. Testing can cost up to $15,000, not counting the repairs. The repairs consist of concrete and grout filling the hole and putting steel brackets beneath the buildings.

Meanwhile, the rain across Central Florida on Monday filled the sinkhole up with water. Sinkhole specialists say the large amounts of rain could case more land to cave in.

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