HUDSON, FL – Sixteen depressions opened in the Beacon Woods community during the past week, according to Pasco County’s emergency management director.
- 1st holes reported on August 13
- Depressions all on private property
- None have been confirmed to be sinkholes
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“We usually get, during the rainy season, a call here, maybe a call there. We had that amount of calls in a period of four days,” said Emergency Management Director Andy Fossa. “So, it’s very unusual for things like this to happen.”
The first holes were reported to the county on August 13. Barbara Geren lives across the street from a cluster of some that formed in a retention area.
She said she first became aware of them after a night of heavy rain.
“It was like something I’ve never heard before – I’m down here 34 years – thunder, lightning, rain. Next morning, my neighbor came, banging on the door, and said, ‘If you see a lot of trucks, don’t worry. Everything’s okay, but there’s a sinkhole,’” Geren said.
Fossa said he can’t confirm any of the depressions are sinkholes. That will be up to a geologist, and because the depressions are on private property, he said the responsibility is on impacted homeowners and Beacon Woods’s homeowners association to reach out to insurers about next steps.
“You’ve got to remember: Florida is one, big swamp," Fossa said. "It was that way. We built on it, we built on it, we built on it, so erosion, decay of materials, can cause depressions and things like that and not be a sinkhole.”
As for why so many depressions opened up in this one neighborhood, Fossa said a nine-mile cave system beneath the community could offer some clues.
“When we did an overlay of the depressions, we noticed a correlation between the cave system and the anomalies of the depressions,” Fossa said. “It’s a possibility, with the water running through the aquifer underneath through the cave system and the exorbitant amount of rain that we’ve had over the last week, could cause those depressions to start forming because of the weight of the water and then the limestone eroding away in the aquifer.”
While both Fossa and Geren said the depressions have appeared to grow during the course of a week, the saturated ground has made that hard to know for sure.
“Some of them are still opening up, but we’ve also got to account for sloughing off. That doesn’t mean the depression is growing. It could be just the sides are falling in a little bit,” said Fossa.
Fossa said there’s not believed to be any safety concerns for homeowners or the public. Geren said she can’t help but worry.
“I knew Florida’s a ‘swiss cheese’, but this is really – this is scary,” she said.
Fossa said he planned to meet with some of the impacted homeowners Tuesday to discuss the situation.