County Leaders consider options for fixing large sinkhole that destroyed two homes

Homeowners fearful of returning after sinkhole
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-17 18:02:16-04

Fears continued among homeowners Monday, three days after one of the biggest sinkholes in the county’s history opened up in their Land O’ Lakes neighborhood.


County leaders say the hole, now some 220 ft. wide and 50 ft. deep, hasn’t grown in the last two days, however, that didn’t stop homeowners like Emily Geldbaugh from leaving. 


“I think I’ll be scared when I come back,” she said. 


She’s lived in her home for 14 years, the county deemed her home unsafe. 


“You can’t sleep very well,” she said, “you wake right up and start thinking about the hole.” 


County staff took water samples from more than a dozen homes Monday to see if any well water was contaminated after the hole opened up, water from an aquifer filling it up and mixing with debris. 


Rolf Hartwig lives just behind one of the two homes destroyed by the sinkhole, he says it reached up to 300 ft from his own foundation. 


He and his family are staying with a relative and aren’t sure when they’ll return. 


“I don’t think it’s done,” he said. 


Kevin Guthrie, the assistant administrator for Pasco Co. says they’re considering the options of what to do once the sinkhole is repaired. 


One option is allowing the homeowners to rebuild, which they can’t stop them from doing.


The other is an option suggested by a USF scientist and involves the county acquiring the land and connecting it with nearby Lake Padgett.


“That’s an option,” he said,  “it’s one of many options.” 


While the homeowners all are insured, the renters who lived in the two destroyed homes didn’t have renter’s insurance. 


United Way in Pasco Co. started a relief fund for the families.


Sun Trust bank is also setting up an account. 


Geldbaugh is now staying with her son until the area is deemed safe, which county administrators aren’t sure when that will be. 


Even then though, she isn’t sure when she’ll be back.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable living here again,” she said.