Winter Park, Florida. June 4th, 2013.

A strange repeat of history. Winter park is no stranger to sinkholes….

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A sinkhole formed in Winter Park, Fla., on Monday, swallowing half a swimming pool and forcing the evacuation of several residents, authorities there say.

The sinkhole—about 50 feet wide and 30 to 40 feet deep—was reported by a homeowner, Suzanne Blumenauer, at about 8:30 p.m., according to the Orange County Fire Rescue Department.

“They came back from dinner and half the backyard was gone,” Orange County Fire Chief Billy Richardson told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

Blumenauer told Richardson that she had a pool party on Sunday “and everything was fine.”

It’s unclear what caused this particular sinkhole. An Orange County geologist was expected to examine the formation early Tuesday, Richardson said.

Sinkholes are common in central Florida, particularly in Winter Park, where, in 1981, a massive sinkhole 350 feet wide and 75 feet deep swallowed a three-bedroom house, “part of the city’s swimming pool and at least five Porsches from a German car business,” Red Huber, a Sentinel photographer, recalled on the 30th anniversary of the famous crater. “Several of the cars later were rescued with a crane, but two are still down there somewhere.”

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Ontario, Canada. May 31st, 2013.

kenora sinkhole -  may 31 2013Dryden residents are seeing some traffic disruptions this morning, following a sinkhole forming underneath the underpass. Blake Poole is the manager of public works, and he says they’re working to repair the issue, while addressing some other repairs.

“Under the underpass currently, we’ve had a minor sinkhole open up. We have some guys repairing it and during their repairs, they’re also going to do some minor repairs to the underpass,” he said.

He anticipates the traffic will be able to travel under the underpass Friday afternoon. The incident was a result of deteriorating pipes beneath the road, and Poole notes this isn’t the first time they’ve seen a sinkhole in that area.

“They’re actually minor holes in the pipe. With the height of the river, and the amount of water flowing through our storm sewer system, it tends to erode some of the fine materials underneath the roadway away, opening up a small sinkhole. That spot has opened up a few times over the years,” he said.

Poole notes they have handed in an application to receive government funding for the repairs to the eroded pipes, but says they can’t do repairs until they receive the funding. He says they’re hoping to be able to solve the problem this summer. – See more at:

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West Point, Utah. May 29th, 2013.

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A driver got an unpleasant surprise in West Point Wednesday when a “cavernous” sinkhole opened up as the driver’s pickup drove over it.

Davis County Sheriff’s Sgt. Susan Poulsen said the 5-feet-wide sinkhole was 8 feet deep, and the only thing holding up the remaining asphalt was a pipe. Fortunately, the truck that encountered it while trying to turn right near the intersection of 2000 West and 300 North suffered no damage.

“That was really something,” said Geraldine Farrell, who witnessed the aftermath of the sinkhole. “You just don’t think about it and you go too fast — it would be a real disaster if the earth opened up and you dropped your car into it.”

Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Vic Saunders said an underground irrigation pipe was the culprit behind the sinkhole.

“Apparently a leak developed in that pipeline,” Saunders said. “There was washing caused around the pipeline itself — washed the dirt away, and then that created a void.”

Saunders said UDOT does regular pipeline and culvert inspections, but sometimes problems don’t become evident until they come to the surface.

“We don’t want them to happen,” Saunders said.

Freshly-filled dirt covered the area Thursday, and Saunders said the sinkhole was expected to be completely repaired on Friday.

The Wasatch Front has already seen its share of sinkholes in 2013. A sinkhole at 5400 South and 3200 west happened April 26 after a water line broke.

“Generally sinkholes that are along roads are associated with an underground utility like a broken water main,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources senior geologist Rich Giraud.

Do those recent events mean much of Utah is built on unstable ground? Scientists say no.

“It’s much different than a bedrock situation where we have sinkholes that are evolved from the dissolution of the rock itself,” Giraud said.

Those are the sinkholes, Giraud said, that swallow entire cars and houses, and seem to happen most frequently in Florida.

“Probably a good way to think of it is Swiss cheese,” Giraud explained. “It’s really Swiss cheese, and every now and then one of these caverns migrates to the surface and you get a sinkhole.”

Scientists say there are areas of Utah that have that kind of land, like southwestern Utah. Even the Timpanogos Cave in Utah County is an example of dissolution. Still, Giraud said most unstable areas are away from the population center.

“A lot of cases are mountainous areas and there aren’t necessarily people there,” Giraud said.

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Palmer Township, Pennsylvania. May 23rd, 2013.

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Would you believe a third time?

Two weeks after Northwood Avenue in Palmer Township was shut by a sinkhole, another one opened up Thursday, this time swallowing part of a Lowe’s truck, authorities said.

Palmer Township Police Chief Larry Palmer confirmed Thursday afternoon that another sinkhole has shut the road.

Sinkholes that shut Northwood Avenue, the key road connecting Forks Township to Palmer and Lower Nazareth townships, happened in early April and returned in early May.

The road was closed on a Thursday in early April due to a water main break that caused two sinkholes. Crews from Easton Suburban Water Authorityworked around the clock to fix and fill the sinkholes and get the road reopened three days later.

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Nashville, Tennesee. May 27th, 2013.

Probably not a good place to leave your shopping cart.


A grocery store in Donelson is trying to stop a sinkhole from getting bigger.

The hole opened up in the parking lot of the Kroger store on McGavock Pike sometime Saturday. It’s right in the middle of a shopping cart corral. Store officials have roped off the area with a large circle of shopping carts, orange plastic barricades, and caution tape, trying to keep people away.

According to some store shoppers, there was a water leak in the area just before the hole opened up. Some told us the hold appeared to be getting bigger.

Store management said they’re working to get the hole fixed as soon as possible.


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Dalkey’s Bullock Harbour, Ireland. May 25th, 2013.

A rare Irish sinkhole.

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A four-year-old girl is lucky to be alive after the ground opened up and swallowed her at Dalkey’s Bullock harbour.

The child was walking with her pregnant mother at the harbour when the sinkhole opened beneath her.

The girl screamed as she disappeared– a witness said she was lucky to have caught her arm on a length of plastic ducting or she could have fallen further.

Local man Wayne Farrell said he was working on the slipway of the harbour on Tuesday evening when he heard a woman calling for help.


“It was only when I got up to her that I realised what had happened. She said her daughter had fallen down a hole, and then I saw her down in the ground behind the harbour wall,” he told Herald.

“The ground behind the harbour wall seems to be getting washed away by the tide when it comes in and it has created big cavities in the ground, and this little girl was lucky not to be killed when the ground beneath her feet suddenly collapsed,” he added.

“The woman was very shaken by the whole thing, and her daughter got a terrible fright, but thankfully because she got caught on the ducting as she fell, she didn’t disappear deeper into the hole,” Mr Farrell said.

“If the girl had slipped down further she would have been wedged beyond rescue,” Mr Farrell said.

Dublin Port, which has responsibility for the area, said the situation is under investigation.

“The area where the incident happened safe by covering it and putting a cordon around it, and further inspection work is due to take place in the coming days,” said a port spokesman.

Sources said fixing the problem could be “a major engineering project”.

Wayne Farrell, who works at the harbour, said there is no mortar between the stones in the harbour wall and it appears the incoming tides are washing the ground out from behind the wall, making the area unsafe.

“Something really needs to be done now or there will be more accidents,” he added.

Mr Farrell said other parts of the major structures of the harbour walls also need attention

Although the girl who fell down the hole was very shaken by the incident, she was not believed to have been injured.

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Wrenshall, Minnesota. May 25th, 2013.

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Members of the Wrenshall Fire and Rescue Squad could hardly believe their eyes when they responded to a call along the Willard Munger State Trail on the evening of May 7 and found a horse swallowed by the ground.

Melissa Aurand of Eagan, Minn., had been riding a horse named Stormy, belonging to her husband’s stepfather, Hank Dubrent, along an unpaved stretch of the trail just before 7 p.m. Her husband, Zach, was riding ahead of her.

“All of a sudden, Stormy started to sort of topple sideways,” Melissa

Aurand said. “I thought maybe she had passed out or something. I was tossed off just as her back legs began to slip into the ground.”

Alert to what was happening, Zach jumped off his horse and ran back to where Melissa was checking to see if the wrist she had landed on was injured.

“The horse was slowly sinking into the ground, like she was in quicksand,” Melissa said.

Zach grabbed Stormy’s halter and tried to tow her out with his horse, but to no avail. Stormy went from sliding slowly into the hole to disappearing completely beneath ground level.

Through it all, Melissa said, Stormy remained calm.

“She’s the most amazing horse ever,” Melissa said.

Zach jumped down into the gaping hole to check on the horse and keep her steady until help arrived. Melissa said her cell phone was in her saddle pack, so Zach had to dig it out and toss it up to her so she could call 911.

“The girl on the phone really calmed me down,” Melissa said. “I told her I needed help because my horse was stuck in the ground, and she had to make me stop and take a deep breath before she could actually catch on to what I was talking about.”

When seven responders from Wrenshall Fire and Rescue pulled up, they walked to Melissa and said casually, “How’s it going?” It was then that Zach stuck his cowboy hat up through the hole and started waving it at them.

“The man was about 6 feet tall, and when we got there all we could see was the top of his cowboy hat,” said Peter Laveau, first assistant chief. “The hole must have been 9 or 10 feet deep.”

Laveau said the sinkhole was big enough for the horse and Zach to stand up in.

A Carlton County sheriff’s deputy who also had responded to the call set to work trying to find a backhoe to help dig the horse out. In the meantime, one of the Wrenshall Fire and Rescue Squad members asked Zach what kind of ramp the horse would need to climb out of the hole.

“He told us he thought something with a 45-degree angle would be enough for the horse to get out,” Laveau said.

The rescue squad had shovels in their rig, so they shoveled for about 10 minutes to reposition the dirt around the edges of the sinkhole into a slope. Zach lifted himself out, and with a bit of encouragement, the horse followed suit.

Laveau said that while the horse was “somewhat sweaty and shook up,” with a small cut on its shoulder, it seemed to be all right.

“She looked pretty good for what she had gone through,” he said.

Laveau said the sinkhole probably originated during last June’s flooding. He said there was a culvert under the trail that may have had a hole ripped in it, or perhaps a washout formed around it. The freeze and thaw cycles of winter may have further compromised that portion of the trail, and the weight of the horse caused it to cave in.

Dubrent arrived with a horse trailer to give Stormy a ride back to the barn, where she happily rejoined her foal as if nothing had happened.

“I could not have asked for a happier ending,” Melissa said.

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