Florida Sinkhole 2013: Disaster Causes Homes To Collapse Like A Pack Of Cards

By Ajit Jha on November 15, 2013 12:14 PM EST

Sinkhole in Dunedin, Florida, November 2013
One of the homes that collapsed after a sinkhole opened in Dunedin, Fla., on November 14. (Photo: Luke Johnson, Getty Images)

In a neighborhood outside of Dunedin, Florida, residents witnessed the worst nightmare ever when at least two homes came crashing into a massive sinkhole that opened up in the ground below.

The cause of the collapse is attributed to the 70 feet wide by 53 feet deep sink hole near 1112 Robmar Road, north of Dunedin. The two homes stand condemned now. Michael and Janie Dupre, the unfortunate victims of the collapse, lived with their 13-year-old daughter Ivy in one of these houses. The family moved out hurriedly early Thursday, after they noticed their back screen room plunging into the pit.

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Luckily they got out in time. However, all a firefighter could retrieve out of the collapsing house was the couple's wedding ring. The firefighter was able to smash a window and  snatch the ring from a desk in the collapsing house.       

"I compared it to someone taking a sledge hammer trying to take a huge sledge hammer and knock it against walls.  It's a cracking, banging sound," Michael Dupre said.

As a precautionary measure, six other homes in the area have already been evacuated and the power has been shut down. A neighbor's boat was seen on the edge of the hole from Action Air 1, a local news helicopter with a high vantage point. The boat was later safely pulled out.

A neighbor,the Erby family, also heard loud noises early on Thursday. Wayne Erby's wife woke him early morning at 6.00 a.m., but they fell back asleep. Soon, firefighters were telling them to pack up and evacuate quickly. "I wasn't prepared for this. I probably wasn't prepared for a lot of things, but a sinkhole in the backyard I wasn't," said Erby.

While no one was injured, the danger isn't over; the hole is still growing, according to Dunedin Fire Department Chief Jeff Parks. The hole had widened to 90 feet by nightfall.  

The Dupre family may already have lost their boat, a bedroom and their enclosed porch, while a neighbor's pool stands damaged. Their truck attached to the boat was, however, rescued. Crews monitoring the sinkhole retrieved Dupres' boat because they didn't want the fuel in the boat to contaminate the groundwater.  

In the Florida panhandle, sinkholes are common because of the presence of porous carbonate rocks such as limestone in the peninsula. Limestone rocks help store water and move them underground eventually creating a void when the rocks dissolve. The limestone roof can easily collapse under the pressure and weight of the ground above. 

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