Mulberry apartment building at risk due to eroding embankment on edge of former phosphate pit

Rock has been used to stabilize the embankment

MULBERRY, Fla. - "It was very scary," said Deborah Smith, who lives in a four-unit townhome building on Diesel Road in Mulberry.

Smith says watching the embankment behind her apartment building slipping into the lake was a real eye-opener.

"We were all very concerned. We got a hold of everybody that we should have got a hold of;  they came out immediately," said Smith.

Mike Schmidt was hired by the buildings owner to keep the townhomes from collapsing into the former phosphate pit.

"This all started with that palm tree out in the water out there.  It went over and took the root ball with it and created a very large landslide right here in this area," Schmidt said.

An initial repair late last week was undone by heavy rains and one resident with young children decided to move out before things got worse.

But truckloads of rock stabilized the embankment for now and Tuesday's wet weather hasn't reversed the progress.

"I see no real imminent danger to the property or to the residents, the people living here.  It has been addressed," Schmidt explained.

Although the building itself did not suffer significant structural damage, the back patios to the apartments now stand the greatest chance of further destruction. 

But Smith says she's comfortable with the way things have changed since those frightening first hours.
"Obviously, the first plan didn't work cause it all washed away.  Then they came out with a second plan and it seems to be working so as long as that holds, I think we'll be good to go," she said.
Mulberry city officials say that so far they're satisfied with the stabilization efforts that have been made to secure the property.  And that there's no immediate plans to ask the remaining residents to leave their homes.

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