Sinkhole scare in Palm Harbor neighborhood

Bay Area sinkholes have people on high alert

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Tuesday brought yet another sinkhole scare to the Bay Area.

Harbor Drive residents made their way onto the street as Palm Harbor officials and investigators made their way in and out of the home at 114 Harbor Drive.  

The initial call about concern of the sinkhole came in from Elsie Hall's caregiver, Deborah.  Each day she comes to take care of the 89-year-old, but on this day, she noticed something weird.  

"The floor was buckling and there were cracks," says Deborah.  It was really scary."

She says with all the talk of sinkholes in the area lately, she knew these were signs of one and wanted an expert's opinion.  

A massive sinkhole opened up in a Seffner man's home last Thursday, swallowing him as he slept in his own bed.  Then, four days after that another sinkhole was reported underneath a fence just a couple miles down the road from the first.

Dan Zinge, Palm Harbor District Chief, says Hall and her caregiver made the right call.

"Whenever there is a question, people should call for help," says Zinge.  "Rather be safe than sorry."

After a couple hours of investigation, Zinge and his crew were able to determine the six-inch tile buckling, in a 12 by 12 space in Hall's living room was probably not caused by a sinkhole.  He says its possibly due to the age of the home or the weather the Bay Area has experienced as of late.

"When we have these cold temperatures like this and you get the moisture underneath, [this] has been our experience," Zinge explains.  "We have heard and seen it before.  When they give way at times, it can be very explosive as far as the separation and that appears to be what happened here.  There is no catastrophic damage to the property and it is not in danger of collapse."

Early Tuesday afternoon, the home was turned over to Hall and we are told its up to her to go through her insurance company to get the help of a structural engineer who can give the final all-clear for the home.

Ms. Hall told us despite living in the home for more than 20 years, she doesn't know when she will return.  She says she is still shaken up by the whole thing.

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