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A sinking feeling: Resident finds what may be mini sinkhole

August 21, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Florida has been called the sinkhole capital of the country and within the last few years, sinkholes seem to be on the increase so when a small one opened up last week in Lehigh on Vineyard Street, Nancy McCance who lives in the 1000 block said she was wondering if it would get bigger.

"It happened next to the driveway of the house near me," she said. "The house has been empty for some time now so maybe it was lucky that nobody had a car in the driveway," she said.

The mini sinkhole occurred on the same day that a much, much larger sinkhole left two resort buildings in Orlando in a deep hole, almost swallowing one of two buildings. However, nobody was hurt in that incident, but it caused extensive damage.

Article Photos

Nancy McCance of Lehigh inspects a mini sinkhole that suddenly appeared last week on an abandoned piece of property near her home on Vineyard Street.

McCance said her daughter, Elizabeth, first noticed the big hole that had opened up near their home.

"She came in and told me and I went out and there it was, about six feet long and at least three feet deep - and showing along the side the possibility of more dirt and grass sliding into it," she said.

Later in the week, she said it still remained and thought perhaps it may have gotten a little bit deeper, she told The Citizen. However, nobody has tended to fix it by filling in the hole.

"Who do you call ... what do you do when this happens. I called the sheriff's office and they said they didn't handle sinkholes and I called another and nobody seemed to know what to do," she said.

"So I put a big black garbage can in it and set up small plastic flamingoes around it to alert anyone who might be walking and stumble into it," she said.

McCance is familiar with the neighboring lot and because she cuts the grass on her own without any compensation or thanks from anyone. She said the house is empty and may be a duplex.

"It helps to make the neighborhood look better if the grass is cut," she said.

Finally, McCance called the Florida Governmental Utility Authority (FGUA) which provides drinking water and sewer service and someone there told her they would come and look at it. But she wasn't sure anyone had come by. If they did, she didn't see them.

Meanwhile, Steve Conti, who owns some of the properties in the sinkhole area, said he has called FEMA.

"I gave the federal people a call and got someone who was familiar with sinkholes, small ones and big ones, and they said they would check into it," Conti said.

Sinkholes are depressions or holes in the land surface that occur throughout west-central Florida. They can be shallow or deep, small or large, but all are a result of the dissolving of the underlying limestone, according to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Hydrologic conditions, including lack of rainfall, lowering water levels, or conversely, excessive rainfall in a short period of time, can all contribute to sinkhole development, officials there said.

Conti said he could believe the reasons for sinkhole due to heavy downpours Lehigh has been experiencing for the last several weeks, and back into June.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," Conti said. "This may be a small sinkhole, but do we know if it will get bigger. If so, it could be dangerous to the properties there."



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