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from Cuba with her daughter in 2007 to escape poverty. “It really was like the American Dream.”

What began as a small depression under a boat parked in the front yard next to Villa’s burnt orange Ocean Pines Drive rental home quickly grew to a behemoth pit. It destroyed one home and nearly swallowed Villa’s, and prompted the county to declare at least 11 others unsafe. From the air, the neighborhood looked unrecognizable: streets lined with TV trucks, the area inside the sinkhole the color of a clay tennis court.

Kevin Guthrie, assistant county administrator for public safety, said it is the largest sinkhole to open in Pasco in at least 30 years. It was still growing Friday night, officials said, and slowly creeping toward a third home. after someone noticed that a boat parked in the yard of 21835 Ocean Pines Drive was sinking into the ground, Division Chief Shawn Whited said. Within an hour, the house had partially collapsed.

The people who live there had already left for work, but firefighters went into the home to retrieve two dogs and some of the home’s belongings.

“We got as much as we could as quickly as we could before it got too dangerous to be up there,” Whited said.

“We had all our memories there,” said Thalia Chapman, Villa’s daughter. “We lost all of our photos, some money.” By Friday night, just the garage and the jagged edges of a couple other rooms were standing.

The hole was about 250 feet wide and as deep as 50 feet Friday night, consuming a large swath of Ocean Pines Drive.

A state geologist confirmed it was an active sinkhole. The hole could eventually merge with Lake Saxon about 200 feet away, Guthrie said.

Dramatic video shows the first home collapsing into the hole, roiling muddy water inside it. In live footage shot by circling news helicopters, chunks of earth at the western edge of the hole could be seen falling away and splashing into the water, slowly consuming the front yard of a house across the street.


A small depression under a boat parked in a front yard quickly grew to a large sinkhole Friday, almost completely swallowing one home, destroing another and prompting officials to declare at least 11 others unsafe.

Drone footage showed a boat bobbing in the water filled pit. The earth opened up to the aquifer below, Guthrie said, which explains its pond like characteristics. A typical sinkhole would have begun to drain by now, he said,
water polo jobs forces evacuations in Land O'Lakes neighborhood
but debris has prevented it from doing so.

Sinkhole formation starts with water. Bedrock limestone, which dominates the area, dissolves as it is exposed to acidic water from rain. That can cause the limestone to collapse, creating a sinkhole. They often occur after heavy rain.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco compared the asphalt around the sinkhole to a crumbling glacier.

“It is so soft,” he said, “you can almost feel the ground moving beneath your feet.”

County building officials tagged 11 homes on Ocean Pines Drive and Canal Street with brightly colored stickers labeling them unsafe, Guthrie said. Evacuations were voluntary, but residents were urged to leave.

“If we need to come knock your door, you need to be ready to go,” Guthrie said. 41 and north of State Road 54, though power was restored Friday afternoon. Officials said the county plans to install a temporary fence around the sinkhole’s perimeter.

Dozens of people from outside the neighborhood came by to see sinkhole. Nocco said gawkers aren’t welcome. They make remediation more difficult.

“If you don’t live in this community, please don’t come down here,” he said.

The county had investigated sinkhole activity beneath 21835 Ocean Pines Drive in 2012, according to Pasco spokesman Doug Tobin. In 2016, the homeowners spent $30,000 to reinforce the house’s foundation with 33 steel pins.

Property records show Walter Zadanoff, who lives in Lutz, purchased the 2,200 square foot, single story home in July 2015 for $157,000. Property records list “sinkhole activity” on the property as “stabilized” and the current value of the home at $195,092. Zadanoff could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Maykel Pedraza Castillo and Yhosvany Marrero Martinez of Tampa have owned the second home where Villa lives since 2006, records show. The current value of the 1,300 square foot single story home is listed at $130,163. Attempts to reach the owners for comment were unsuccessful Friday.

Red Cross representatives said they were prepared to open a shelter if more than a few residents needed a place to stay, and that they’ll likely place some of them in hotels.
water polo jobs forces evacuations in Land O'Lakes neighborhood