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Residents still forced out of homes by sinkhole

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 31, 2016
A handful of Tarpon Springs Residents still don’t know exactly when they’ll be able to go home.
 
The evacuations were caused by a massive sinkhole on Mango Street.
 
The sinkhole is now estimated at 100 feet wide and 50 feet deep.
 
Pinellas County Utilities crews continue to work on the repair of a 30-inch sewer force main that broke.
The county’s sewer force main was damaged. 
 
The crews are preparing a bypass for the broken force main to reroute sewage. 
 
The temporary repair is expected to be installed late Friday night through early Saturday morning.
 
Water Cooper is trying not to worry about his home, just steps away from the sinkhole.
 
“Yea, I keep looking over there to see if it’s going to cave in or not, but you never know,” he said.
 
Instead, he’s doing the same thing he always does to keep busy. Painting for neighbors.
 
“I’m almost done with this one,” he said.
 
It’s life as normal for most people in the Tarpon Shores Mobile Home park.
 
But Walter and a handful of other residents, still aren’t allowed back inside their trailers.
 
“I’m hoping to sneak in their today,” he said.
 
Crews worked throughout the night, repairing the broken water and sewer pipes.
 
And officials are confirming, the sinkhole caused those pipes to break. Not the other way around.
 
“With the force of the water there was some additional erosion. But the original issue was the sinkhole,” said Nick Zoller, Pinellas County Public Information Officer.
 
Sara Smith owns the U-Haul dealer in the neighboring business plaza. 
 
“I was like oh, no, is the building going to fall into the hole.”
 
And the lot where she normally keeps her trucks and trailers, is now off limits.
 
“It’s been a little frustrating. It has cut into our business. But mostly it’s just the safety of everybody that we were concerned about,” she said.
 
Meanwhile, inspectors brought in by the city are continuing to look at the effected homes.
 
So far they say everything looks ok, but it’s still too soon to give the all clear.
 
And too soon for Walter to feel completely at ease.
 
“We don’t know what it’s going to do underneath that ground, even though they get that fixed. It’s going to be rough for the area for a while,” said Cooper.
 
Once the pipes are repaired, the city will start looking at filling the hole. But they tell me it’s still too early for a timetable.
 
Update from Pinellas County:
 
Pinellas County Utilities crews continue to work on the repair of a 30-inch sewer force main that broke, Wednesday morning, March 30. As a result of an existing sinkhole, the county’s sewer force main was damaged. The crews are preparing a bypass for the broken force main to reroute sewage. This temporary repair is expected to be installed late Friday night through early Saturday morning.
 
The broken force main is located south of Tarpon Shores Mobile Home Park on Mango Street in Tarpon Springs. The sinkhole is approximately 100’ wide and 50’ deep.
 
Pumper trucks located on site and at nearby pumping stations are alleviating the pressure on the system by removing excessive water flow.
 
The broken main valve will shut down late Friday night into early Saturday morning. In order to avoid any sort of sewer spill, pumper trucks will be operating during that time. Residents in the area east of Lake Tarpon and north of East Lake Woodlands may experience a higher than normal level of noise. Specific impacted neighborhoods include:
 
·         Ridgemoor
·         Lansbrook
·         Crescent Oaks
·         Tarpon Woods
·         Woodfield
·         Cypress Run
·         Wentworth
·         Windwood
Pinellas County Utilities customers in these neighborhoods are asked to refrain from any unnecessary water usage while these activities are underway to avoid overflow of sewage in their neighborhoods. Conservation is especially important during late Friday night into early Saturday morning. Water conservation measures include:
 
·         Take a short shower.
·         Limit use of dishwasher or only run with a full load.
·         Dump excess water in your garden instead of down the drain.
·         Shut off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving.
For more conservation tips, visitwww.pinellascounty.org/solidwaste/green/water.html
 
Residents in the area can expect sporadic closings of southbound East Lake Road between Lansbrook entrance and Ridgemoor entrance to allow tanker trucks access to the pumping stations in the area. 
 
Pinellas County Emergency Management and Tarpon Springs Emergency Management are continuing to work with the Red Cross to help temporarily displaced residents of Tarpon Shores Mobile Home Park. 
 
Pinellas County continues to work with the city of Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue and Tarpon Springs Police Department.
 
All Utilities updates will be posted on the Pinellas County website at www.pinellascounty.org.