Washington DC. 12th March, 2013

Sinkhole closes Adams Morgan street

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Biltmore Street has reoepned, according to police.

Sinkhole alert: A sinkhole has appeared in the 1900 block of Biltmore Street NW, blocking a street and sparking a flurry of predictably cheesy tweets.

Biltmore Street is closed between 19th Street and Cliffbourne Place NW.

The initial warning from Alert DC described the sinkhole as being “25 feet deep and expanding from east to west.” But an official at the District Department of Transportation told the Washington City Paper that it’s three to four feet deep and not going into the street.

A spokeswoman for the D.C. police told the Post that they didn’t know where the “25 feet deep” figure came from, but said police haven’t taken any measurements. Police were alerted to the sinkhole by a citizen and arrived on the scene at 12:13 p.m.

Will Sommer at the City Paper tweeted this photo of the sinkhole:

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Waterloo, Ilinois. March 12th, 2013.

This just in from Paul, our Simi Valley correspondent:

Another sinkhole human attack!

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This is Mark Mihal, the poor fellow who fell in:

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Mark Mihal, from Creve Coeur, Mo., was playing Annbriar Golf Course, a place he frequents, when ground gave way to the 43-year-old, dropping him 18 feet into the middle of a dirt abyss.

“I was standing in the middle of the fairway,” Mihal told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday. “Then, all of a sudden, before I knew it, I was underground.”

Immediately Mihal said he thought back to a story of a man that was sleeping when ground gave way and he was never recovered, but after 20 minutes, some rope and help from the course’s general manager, he was pulled from the sinkhole and back on solid ground.

The story is just as crazy as it sounds. It was the first time something like this has ever happened at Annbriar Golf Course, a course that Mihal said he plays a lot because it’s always in good shape, but it seems he might be avoiding it in the future. Mihal said after the incident that it might be too strange for him to return to the course because of what happened on No. 14, but come on, you’re a golfer, we all have horror stories from golf courses! The difference is, most of our bad times end with the word “bogey,” not “bon voyage.”

I know that golfers normally get a rain check if the round gets washed away, but what’s the appropriate response for a man that nearly disappeared in the turf of your track? Free golf for life? His own putting green in his back yard? A miner’s helmet?

Lucky for everyone involved, Mihal suffered just a few bruises and a dislocated shoulder.

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. March 10th, 2013.

Doris Jenkins gets a real mother’s day surprise when she realized a sinkhole was forming underneath her Bethlehem Township home.

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The township was fixing a smaller sinkhole near the sewer lines last week and, before she went to bed Saturday, she noticed her ceiling starting to separate from the wall at her home, 1502 Second St. She awoke at 4 a.m. to the sound of one of her three dogs barking and took them for a walk.

“When I came around the corner, I saw it,” she said. “A big hole opening up at the end of the driveway.”

The hole, which township officials estimated had reached 30 feet wide and 12 feet deep by noon, is part of a larger sinkhole that emerged in the aftermath of some sewer line work done this week in that neighborhood near the Wilson Avenue intersection.

Township officials evacuated Jenkins and her daughter, Ingeborg, from the home, and checked nearby homes. Officials say no other houses show signs of structural damage.

Township Manager Howard Kutzler, who was in the neighborhood early Sunday afternoon, said sinkholes can be dangerous, and people should not take them lightly.

“We caught this early,” Kutzler said. “Now, the repair work must be done.”

He said he expected engineers to arrive later Sunday or Monday to survey the size of the sinkhole.

Ron Ford, assistant chief at the Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Department, estimated the sinkhole could be as big as a half-block.

Sinkholes grabbed national headlines two weeks ago when a 37-year-old Florida man died after a sinkhole opened up beneath his house and swallowed the bedroom in which he was sleeping.

Locally, a sinkhole discovered last July beneath an Allentown home in the 800 block of North Fifth Street forced the evacuation of a block of row homes. In December 2011, a sinkhole engulfed a half-block of homes on North 10th Street, damaging homes and threatening the nearby cemetery.

Limestone is prominent in the Lehigh Valley. Limestone is prone to sinkholes because of its solubility when water comes in contact with it. The southern half of Bethlehem Township contains a lot of limestone, township officials say.

Ford said Sunday’s sinkhole is the first major sinkhole he is aware of in that neighborhood.

Earlier this week, township officials had a sewer line fail in Jenkins neighborhood. Township crews dug up a sewer line in the neighborhood and fixed two smaller sinkholes that had opened up.

On Sunday morning, the township shut down the pump house and trucked the sewage to the treatment plant, off Shimersville Road in Bethlehem. The sewer line that runs through Jenkins’ neighborhood can carry up to a million gallons of sewage a day. Officials say it was installed in the 1970s.

“It’s not a small line,” Ford said.

He said township officials are monitoring the neighborhood to ensure gas from the sewer lines does not back up into the homes.

Jenkins’ house was blocked off with yellow caution tape. Neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood of bi-levels and ranch homes milled outside in the warm winter weather to watch crews work.

Karen Leschinsky, who lives next door to Jenkins, has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and never saw a sinkhole as large as the one that began forming Sunday.

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Rockledge, Pennsylvania. March 7th, 2013.

SINKHOLE SWALLOWS STREAM!

Bill Verdon said, there’s been a creek in the area of the Rockledge community in South Londonderry Township.

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That was until last week, when the small creek began to inexplicably dry up.

By Thursday, there was little water left in the community’s duck pond, where a few forlorn mallards were still holding on. The tiny creek bed itself was almost bone dry.

“Boom! It was gone overnight,” said Verdon, who is the community’s maintenance and grounds manager. “It’s hard to believe, but seeing is believing. We had droughts where it would be a trickle, but there was always something coming through.”

It was, he said, a mystery.

The body of water in question is named Spring Creek, and flows from Campbelltown north through the development into Hershey, where it eventually meets with the Swatara Creek on the grounds of the Hershey Country Club.

This Spring Creek should not be confused with Spring Creek in downtown Hershey, which is a separate, larger creek.

Nor is it a raging river, as the path it cuts through Rockledge can be jumped across.

But it is part of the community, so Verdon decided to try and figure out what was going on.

He went upstream, walking through Rockledge and across a nearby farm lane, into adjacent corn field along Lingle Avenue.

There, he found the culprit.

The stream, he discovered, had been swallowed by a massive sinkhole.

It measures about 40-feet wide, maybe 20-feet across, with a depth of 10 to 15 feet. Spring Creek, which used to flow in a shallow creek bed through the area, has formed a miniature waterfall, spilling dramatically into the hole.

From there, it appears to go underground to parts unknown. The property is owned by the Milton Hershey Trust, which has a geologist investigating the hole and how best to fill it back in.

The area is prone to sinkholes – Verdon said the residential community has had to fill in a number of them over the years. That has concerned the homeowners of the community. After all, said Eugene Snesavage, president of the Rockledge Homeowners Association, all that water’s going somewhere.

Sinkholes in the area are largely due to the geology of the region.

Verdon’s hole is in vicinity of the contact between the Epler and the Stonehenge geological formations, said Bill Roman, president of the Harrisburg Area Geological Society.

The two formations, Roman said, are believed to have formed between 485 to 443 million years ago. They are marked by a fractured limestone structure, which acts as a natural pipe system for underground water.

Verdon said he thought the stream might be draining into Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown, but that’s unlikely, said a DCNR geologist, given the distance from the creek to the cavern.

Most likely the water is following existing cracks in the limestone. It would be impossible to guess where it is going without trying to track the water’s flow. That’s typically done by dropping a dye marker into the stream and seeing where it re-appears.

The most probable solution is to simply fill the hole back up, and Spring Creek will be allowed to resume its course though the development.

The ducks, no doubt, will be pleased.

 

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Seffner, Florida. March 5th, 2013.

Oh well, it’s definitely coming up on sinkhole season in West Central Florida:

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A SECOND sinkhole has opened up in Seffner Florida. Heralding the beginning of Florida’s notorious “sinkhole season.”

The latest sinkhole opened two miles away and was said to be about 12-feet round, three feet deep around the edge and about five feet deep in the center, according to Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz. Police say the second one does not pose immediate danger, Reuters reports.

The two sinkholes also appear to be unrelated. “It is not geologically connected,” Puz said.

“Spring” is known as “sinkhole season” in west central Florida, which has a particularly porous karst, or limestone, geology that’s prone to creating the unexpected — and worrying — depressions.

According to Fox 18, the 12-foot-wide second sinkhole emerged between two houses in the Seffner neighborhood, and has yet to cause any structural damage or harm to the neighbors.

Local officials are investigating the new sinkhole to determine what is to be done about it,wrote Tampa Bay Online, noting that the hole is about 10 feet deep.

“Oh God, it’s scary, you never know what could happen,” said Katia Varga, who lives two doors down from the new sinkhole, to Fox.

“See it happened to that man? It happened to our neighbor; it could happen to anyone. You got to watch out and be safe.”

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Seffner, Florida. March 1st, 2013.

We have found some pictures from Tuesday that are better, the subfloor/foundation pad of the house obscures much of the sinkhole itself..

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Monday Finally revealed..

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A demolition crew finally revealed the large sinkhole that swallowed a man from Florida in his bedroom last week after they finished knocking down the house the stood over it.

The home over the sinkhole had been as-gingerly-as-possible picked apart by a long-armed backhoe in an effort to preserve as many keepsakes as possible for the family that until last week lived in it.

Crews on Sunday razed more than half the home, managing to salvage some keepsakes for family members who lived there, and continued their work early Monday morning. It wasn’t until late Monday that the hole was revealed, reports CBS affiliate WTSP in Tampa.

A cousin of the family who lived there described watching them tear the home down as “terrifying,” reports WTSP.

“I just don’t even know what to think sometimes. All those memories, childhood, down the drain,” said Jordan Wheeler, adding that he was “heartbroken” by the situation.

Now that emergency officials and engineers can see inside the sinkhole more clearly, they could begin planning how to deal with it. They also need to decide what will happen to the two homes on either side of the affected house. Experts say the sinkhole has “compromised” those homes, but it’s unclear whether steps can be taken to save them.

Though thousands of sinkholes erupt in Florida each year, most are small, few affect homes, and even fewer cause deaths. The sinkhole in the Tampa suburb of Seffner, however, was different.

Mark Stewart, a geologist at the University of South Florida, told CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez sinkholes are rarely so catastrophic. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict them either.

“If a cavity is large and sediments have simply, at this point in time, have clogged it, in 10 years, 100 years it could open up again,” Stewart said.

Bojorquez reports that as crews began to fill the hole with gravel, yet another sinkhold appeared a few miles away between two other homes. No one was injured there.

Crews still were working to remove enough of the home to see more clearly inside the hole and determine what steps would come after the property is razed. There has been no definitive word as to whether the hole will be filled or whether the property could be built on again. But some experts say the fact that the sinkhole claimed a life, and that his body is expected to remain below the surface make rebuilding less likely.

“It’s kind of a bad omen,” said Dave Arnold, a hydrogeologist who has surveyed sinkholes for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. “This is an even worse omen with someone buried under there.”

Arnold and other experts expect that once the house if destroyed, crews will work to fill in the hole and the lot will likely remain empty. Depending on the circumstances, past Florida sinkholes have been handled in varied ways.

In Maitland, Fla., a sinkhole 325 feet across was discovered in the 1960s as Interstate 4 was built. The highway was diverted around the area, but in 2008 workers began a $9 million project to fill and stabilize the sinkhole in preparation for a planned expansion of the roadway. Engineers say a road can be put over it now without any problems.

In Winter Park, Fla., a sinkhole in 1981 swallowed several sports cars, parts of two businesses, the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool and a three-bedroom house. It stretched about 350 feet across and caused $2 million in damages. The area became a temporary tourist attraction, but most of it was ultimately deserted, filled with water and became a lake.

And in 2002, a sinkhole about 150 feet across and 60 feet deep swallowed oak trees, sidewalk and park benches near an apartment complex in western Orange County, Fla. Two buildings with more than 100 residents were evacuated, but the structures were ultimately saved. Metal sheet piling was placed around the hole to stop the soil from sliding, and it was filled.

Often, homeowners find clues to a pending problem by cracks in the foundation or a shifting floor. When that happens, and a sinkhole threat has been established, crews can pump a thick grout — a mixture of sand and cement — into the ground to fill the holes. It is a costly process, though it is typically paid by insurance companies, and can save a home from being destroyed.

“You inject the grout under pressure and attempt to fill all the cavities you can find,” said Anthony Randazzo, a former University of Florida geology professor who started the consulting firm Geohazards, which handles about 1,000 cases a year of sinkholes and other settlement issues.

Though the specifics of what will happen to the Seffner property remain unknown, Randazzo said the hole would have to be filled to keep people from falling in it and to remove a potential neighborhood eyesore.

If the family decides to try to sell the property, they would be required to notify prospective buyers of the sinkhole issue.

Currently, various county agencies are at the sinkhole site to supervise, but officials haven’t given a tally of the costs or said who is absorbing them.

For now, the focus in Seffner remains on a family mourning a loved one and trying to move on. Two large backhoes scraped and pulled at the house Monday afternoon, with one gently removing possessions including a flag, a jacket, family photographs, a bicycle and a china cabinet. The other machine loaded shattered pieces of furniture and construction material into a huge waste container.

The day’s most solemn moment came at 4 p.m., when demolition stopped and workers joined family members for a brief ceremony. The many flowers and notes that had been left in front of the house were loaded into a tractor’s bucket, which swung slowly toward the sinkhole and dropped the materials into the hole. There was applause from across the street.

Crews hoped to finish the demolition by Monday evening. On Tuesday, they planned to survey the hole to better understand its dimensions. Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz said workers would then “stabilize the hole,” though he remained mum on details of what precisely would be done.

“Every sinkhole is different,” he said.

The grim work continues at a home near Tampa, Fla., where a man apparently died last week when a sinkhole opened up under his bedroom.

As a giant red backhoe plunged into the Florida home where a massive sinkhole swallowed a man whole, pieces of the family’s lives were pushed into public view.

Walls with picture frames on them came crashing down. Baby toys and clothes on hangers were raked across the ground.

A woman wept as an official handed her a framed portrait. Others lovingly salvaged military awards, a pink teddy bear and an American flag that hung near the house’s front door. The family Bible bore claw marks from the backhoe’s bucket.

Workers started demolishing the blue, one-story home as carefully as they could Sunday to try to salvage belongings for the family of the victim, Jeff Bush.

Demolition efforts are resuming. At some point today, according to news reports, crews should be able to remove walls, roofing and other materials from atop the room where 37-year-old Jeffrey Bush had been sleeping — exposing the sinkhole and giving authorities a better view of what’s said to be a 60-foot-deep chasm.

As Korva reported over the weekend, authorities had to give up efforts to find Bush because the hole was just too dangerous to work in. They’re working from a distance — using cranes and other equipment.

Tampa’s WFLA-TV reports this morning on the three generations of one family that had lived in the home. The Tampa Bay Times writes about how workers, using a long boom with a bucket, tried over the weekend to carefully scoop some of the family’s possessions from the home. The family:

“Watched the long boom extend and the bucket approach, tentatively at first, to scoop up an American flag that had been flying outside the home. Firefighters in the street folded it into a triangle and handed it to them.

“The machine pressed on.

“Blocks tumbled. Wood splintered. Walls fell, revealing beds, televisions, dressers and framed photos.

“The backhoe operator combed for treasured objects. The family cried and applauded when he unearthed the Bible of their late matriarch, Mary Leona Wicker, who, between its aged pages, had tucked baptism certificates.

“Afterward, the family hugged the operator and thanked him.”

Tampa Bay Online adds that:

“As of Sunday afternoon — when demolition had stopped for the day and only a few walls of the home remained — a Bible, family photos, a jewelry box and a pink teddy bear for Hannah were among the items saved.

“Wanda Carter, aunt of Rachel Wicker and daughter of Leland Wicker, who has owned the home since the 1970s, cradled the large family Bible in her arms. She said her mother and father had stored baptism certificates, cards and photos between the pages of that Bible over the years.

” ‘It means that God is still in control, and He knew we needed this for closure,’ she said, crying.”

split-seffner sinkhole 2This just in from our Burbank correspondent:

Well this sucks, imagine you’re sleeping soundly and all of a sudden the ground opens up under your bed and swallows you up and probably kills you. YES! The ground just swallowed him up.

A Florida man fell into a sinkhole that opened suddenly Thursday night beneath the bedroom of his suburban Tampa home, calling out to his brother for help as he fell, the brother said Friday.

“I heard a loud crash, like a car coming through the house,” Jeremy Bush told CNN affiliate WFTS. “I heard my brother screaming and I ran back there and tried going inside his room, but my old lady turned the light on and all I seen was this big hole, a real big hole, and all I saw was his mattress.”

Bush frantically tried to rescue his brother, Jeff Bush, by standing in the hole and digging at the rubble with a shovel until police arrived and pulled him out, saying the floor was still collapsing.

“I thought I heard him holler for me to help him,” the man tearfully told WFTS.

Jeremy Bush and four other people, including a 2-year-old child, escaped from the blue, one-story 1970s-era home in Seffner, Florida, a Tampa suburb.

Jeff Bush was presumed dead after monitoring equipment lowered by engineers detected no signs of life, said Jessica Damico, the Hillsborough County Fire Department spokeswoman.

But rescuers can’t go into the hole to check — it’s too dangerous, Fire Chief Ron Rogers told reporters Friday. Authorities say they worry the hole is still spreading and the house could collapse at any time.

The sinkhole is about 20 feet to 30 feet across and may be 30 feet deep, said Bill Bracken, president of the engineering company assisting emergency workers. The hole was originally reported to be 100 feet across, but that is the diameter of the safety zone surrounding it, Bracken said.

“It started in the bedroom, and it has been expanding outward and it’s taking the house with it as it opens up,” he said.

Nearby homes have been evacuated as a precaution, Rogers said.

Damico said about 40 police and firefighters were standing by at the scene Friday morning. Meanwhile, engineers with more sophisticated equipment hope to get a three-dimensional image of the sinkhole.

Family members were also on hand, waiting out what they fear will be a devastating day.

“I know in my heart he’s dead,” Jeremy Bush said. “But I just want to be here for him, because I love him. He was my brother, man.”

Sinkholes are common in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The state lies on bedrock made of limestone or other carbonate rock that can be eaten away by acidic groundwater, forming voids that collapse when the rock can no longer support the weight of what’s above it.

Hillsborough County is part of an area known as “sinkhole alley” that accounts for two-thirds of the sinkhole-related insurance claims in the state, according to a Florida state Senate Insurance and Banking Committee report.

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Fire Rescue workers in Brandon, Florida are trying to find a man that was swallowed by a sinkhole that opened up under his bedroom last night.

36-year-old Jeff Bush, a roadside maintenance worker for the Florida Department of Transportation, was in his bed when authorities say the ground started to give way. Jessica Damico, a spokeswoman for the Hillsboro County Fire Rescue, said Bush’s brother tried to rescue him, and was almost pulled in himself.

Three other adults and a child were in the home at the time, but they escaped unharmed. His sister says she could hear Bush screaming, trapped under the rubble.

The sinkhole is nearly 100 feet wide, and 50 feet deep. Damico said the it’s still growing, and the house could collapse at any time. She also said that deputies have put in sound and motion monitoring equipment to try to find out if Bush is still alive, but they don’t have any results yet.

An engineering team is on the way to the scene to evaluate and see if they can reach the man.

Deputies have evacuated several homes in the area in case the sinkhole opens up further.

Saturday March 2nd update from the Associated Press:

Engineers worked gingerly on Saturday to find out more about a slowly growing sinkhole that had swallowed a Florida man in his bedroom, believing that the entire house could succumb to the unstable ground.

Police tape kept onlookers safely across the street on Friday.

Jeremy Bush/Jeremy Bush, via Associated Press

Jeff Bush

Jeff Bush, 37, was in his bedroom on Thursday night when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five other people were in the house but escaped unharmed. Mr. Bush’s brother jumped into the hole to try to help, but he had to be rescued by a sheriff’s deputy.

Engineers returned to the property on Saturday morning to do more tests after taking soil samples and running tests there all day Friday. They said the entire lot was dangerous, and no one was allowed in the house.

“I cannot tell you why it has not collapsed yet,” said Bill Bracken, the owner of an engineering company that was called to assess the sinkhole. He described the earth below as a “very large, very fluid mass.”

“This is not your typical sinkhole,” said Michael Merrill, the Hillsborough County administrator. “This is a chasm. For that reason, we’re being very deliberate.”

The hole had grown to 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide by Friday night, and officials said it was still expanding and “seriously unstable.”

Officials delicately addressed another sad reality: Mr. Bush was most likely dead, and the family wanted his body.

“They would like us to go in quickly and locate Mr. Bush,” Mr. Merrill said.

Two neighboring houses were evacuated, and officials were considering further evacuations. Members of the news media were moved from a lawn across the street to a safer area a few hundred feet away.

“This is a very complex situation,” said the Hillsborough County fire chief, Ron Rogers. “It’s continuing to evolve, and the ground is continuing to collapse.”

Sinkholes are so common in Florida that the state requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger. While some cars, homes and other buildings have been devoured, it is extremely rare for a sinkhole to swallow a person.

Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because of the underground prevalence of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water, creating caverns.

“You can almost envision a piece of Swiss cheese,” Taylor Yarkosky, a sinkhole expert from Brooksville, said while gesturing to the ground and to the sky-blue house where the earth opened. “Any house in Florida could be in that same situation.”

A sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet across in 1981 and swallowed five cars, most of two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in Hillsborough County alone since the government started keeping track in 1954, according to the state’s environmental agency.

The sinkhole here caused the home’s concrete floor to cave in around 11 p.m. Thursday as everyone in the house was turning in for the night. It gave way with a loud crash that sounded like a car hitting the house and brought Mr. Bush’s brother, Jeremy, running.

Jeremy Bush said he had jumped into the hole but could not see his brother before the ground crumbled around him. A sheriff’s deputy reached out and pulled him to safety.

“The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn’t care — I wanted to save my brother,” Jeremy Bush said through tears on Friday in a neighbor’s yard. “But I just couldn’t do nothing.”

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San Francisco, California. February 28th, 2013.

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Crews are out repairing a 30-foot sinkhole and cleaning up debris caused by a major water main break in San Francisco.

On Wednesday morning a massive rush of water and mud damaged a dozen vehicles and almost two dozen homes in the West Portal neighborhood.

Two of those homes are yellow-tagged, meaning access is restricted until their foundations can be repaired.

A 16-inch cast iron water main broke early Wednesday morning.

15th Avenue from West Portal Avenue to Wawona Street is closed to finish repairs to the sinkhole.

Thanks to ABC 7 San Francisco for sending a reporter there to stand in the way of the cameras…

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