With more storms on the way, Villagers worried about even more sinkholes opening up

The four sinkholes that opened in The Villages on Monday followed a week of steady rain that thoroughly saturated the ground.

And with a sub-tropical storm system forming off the coast of Florida and forecasts calling for thunderstorms through at least June 4, residents in the Village of Calumet Grove are nervous and scared – much like they have been every day for the past three months.

 

Yellow crime scene tape blocked access to the sinkhole at the storm drain.

Monday’s sinkholes formed near two houses on SE 79th McLawren Terrace that have remained empty since a rash of sinkholes first plagued the neighborhood in February. An aerial view Monday showed a sinkhole the size of several automobiles that took out a large chunk of roadway and sections of two yards.

Two other sinkholes opened in the yards. And a fourth sinkhole re-opened underneath an adjoining lake on the nearby Nancy Lopez Legacy golf course, where a broken pipe was sticking up and water was draining into the ground.

Eighty-year-old Frank Neumann’s damaged home at 17086 SE 79th McLawren Terrace sits near the closed-off intersection with 171st McAlpin Street, just off the Torri Pines golf course. He and his 78-year-old wife haven’t been able to live in their retirement home since it was deemed a danger in February, but he was back at the property Monday with a geologist he’s hired to help determine if it’s going to be safe to live there again.

Pior to Monday’s sinkhole activity, Neumann said he was hoping to have his home repaired and stay in the neighborhood he’s lived in for 14 years – largely because of the friendships he and his wife have formed there. But as he stood in his front yard looking at the second wave of destruction to strike his property in 95 days, he said he wasn’t so sure that remaining in The Villages was a good idea.

Don Deakin

Community Development District 4 Supervisor Don Deakin, who hosted a question-and-answer session with 200 concerned residents in March, spent time Monday checking out the latest wave of damage to hit SE 79th McLawren Terrace. He said he’s happy to report that residents have been keeping a watchful eye on the situation.

Deakin said homeowner Doris Morrell, who owns the other damaged on home on SE 79th McLawren Terrace, called him May 9 to warn of a depression at the storm drain. He said he drove through the area later that night and saw what she was talking about.

“It was two to three inches lower and sloping down toward the storm drain,” Deakin said.

Meanwhile, the pond at the Torrey Pines Nine on the Lopez golf course had filled up back with rainwater since February.

“Saturday night, the pond drained out,” Deakin said.

The CDD 4 supervisor also reminded residents that he will hold a question-and-answer session at 7 p.m. June 4 at Mulberry Grove Recreation Center. He said residents should bring their concerns to that meeting.

Assistant District Manager Richard Baier on Monday said the District is working with its geotechnical engineer, as well as a contractor, to back-fill the intersection void, as well as the anomaly behind the storm water drain.

“Given the weather conditions, the District staff will monitor the intersection as it moves forward with repairs to its infrastructure and coordinating with others as to their repair plans for their infrastructure,” he said.