As a massive sinkhole grows in size, so does the frustration of two homeowners in the Raintree subdivision outside of Jacksonville.
Cherie Pickett, of Raintree Road, said the sinkhole appeared with the heavy rains on the day of Hurricane Irene and has grown each time more rain falls.
“We had a bad storm (Monday) night and it expanded further,” she said.
At last measurement, she said, it was 25 feet long, 15 feet wide and 10 feet deep.
A cracked or damaged storm-water drainage pipe at the site appears to be the culprit, and as the heavy rains soaked the soil, water rushed in and created a vacuum effect that sucked in the dirt.
As the sinkhole grows, so do Pickett’s worries.
She worries not only about the impact on the home she and her husband, Dan, own but also about the safety of others, particularly children in the area. There is caution tape around the sinkhole but she said it’s difficult to see at night and Halloween trick or treating is coming up soon.
“It’s just going to get bigger and I’m concerned about the children not seeing it. I’m scared to death about that,” she said.
The sinkhole spreads from their backyard into the side yard of their neighbor, Keith Parks, on Saddleridge Court.
Pickett said the hole is still 30 feet or so from their home but for Parks it is as close as 15 feet to the house he bought in March.
“My big concern is what if it gets close enough and cracks the foundation of my house,” said Parks.
Discussions with the N.C. Department of Transportation, county officials and insurance agents have been little consolation, the homeowners said.
“No one’s wanting to assume responsibility,” Pickett said.
County DOT Maintenance Engineer Warren Wethington, who went by to see the sinkhole on Tuesday, said the pipes were laid back when the subdivision was built, and in this case, DOT has no responsibility in repairing the damage because it is outside of the state right of way.
And there hasn’t been a repeated problem with roadway flooding in that area to address, he said.
Storm water drainage, he said, is a responsibility that involves many people, and in this case it appears to be with the homeowners.
“There’s not a whole lot we can do in this situation. The most important thing to remember is that everybody plays a part. We all bear some responsibility,” he said.
Parks said that the sinkhole may be on their property, but the storm-water flowing into the drain comes from all around them and not just their property.
The repairs that need to be done include replacing the pipe and it’s not an expense the average homeowner can afford.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” he said.
Yet doing nothing doesn’t seem to be an option.
“Every time it rains it’s going to get bigger and get closer and closer (to the houses),” Pickett said.
Pickett said Onslow County Emergency Services Director Norman Bryson stopped by Tuesday as well and indicated that he would look into the matter further since the sinkhole started during the hurricane.