HUDSON — Keep your head on your shoulders and your feet on the ground.
“That’s easy for you to say,” might be the sentiment of some living in sinkhole-plagued Lakeside Woodlands in Hudson. Their heads are spinning as their property values spiral downward; their feet are on the ground, but will the ground be under the feet tomorrow?
Record rainfall in August started it all, as depressions and holes began opening around the neighborhood. At first, Pasco County officials did not apply the word “sinkholes” to the ground collapses. They categorized them as “depressions,” but a couple of weeks ago, engineers determined there were sinkholes in the neighborhood. The residential area, the engineers determined, was built over a systems of underground caves with flowing water.
According to Pasco County statement issued Oct. 15, “Engineers have identified sinkhole activity, and some of the depressions continue to be active; however, no structures are in danger of being compromised at this time.
“OK, so what are they going to do about?” asked one resident who lives on one of the roads closed due to the potential danger.
“I just hope they fix it soon,” said another.
Pasco officials are working with the engineer who surveyed the neighborhood and discovered the underground cave network. Not much has changed since, Tambrey Laine, Pasco County public information officer, said Oct. 31.
“Emergency Management is monitoring the area several times a week,” she said. “Some of the depressions are still showing signs of activity.
She added, “There is no quick fix in this situation, and the county is working with several partner agencies to determine next steps.”
Several residents who spoke with a reporter did not want to be identified. One said the reason is the neighborhood home owners association “doesn’t like it when we talk to the press.”
One resident had a sinkhole in her back yard repaired in 2008, and said most residents were aware the area is prone to sinkholes.
“I don’t find it to be horrific,” she said of the current rash of sinkholes or depressions. “It’s Florida’ it’s part of nature and it’s not like anyone here didn’t realize it could happen.”
Sinkholes in Florida? Of course, agreed a retired man who lives on one of the closed streets. But had he known Lakeside Woodlands sits atop of a cave system, he wouldn’t have bought his house.
“My life savings are tied up in this house,” he said. “Right now Realtors have told me they wouldn’t even list this house.”
Property values and the ability to sell are among the primary concerns, said another neighbor.
“Nobody could sell a house in here right now,” he said.
The retired couple said they don’t think the county is doing enough or working fast enough.
“I feel for the people who can’t drive up to their houses because of the barricades,” said a resident. “If they come home with a bunch of groceries they have to park outside (the barricades) and walk home, even if it’s in the rain.”
The female half of the retired couple living on one of the close streets said she called the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hoping Tallahassee might be able to speed things along.
“And I’m going to keep calling every day until I get an answer,” she said.
Another resident said some of the worst sinkholes are in a stormwater retention area that is a street over from her home. She thinks the collapse areas should just be filled with water and become a pond.
“I don’t know; I’m not an expert, but it seems like a lot of the sinkholes around are now lakes or ponds.”
The remedy for the holes in Lakeside Woodlands have not been determined, but residents who’ve had small sinks in their yards repaired in the past noted that concrete and dirt was used to fill them.
“Lots of people around here have had sinkholes over the years,” but now insurance doesn’t cover them anymore, so they have to fix them out of their own pocket,” one resident noted, adding that’s a hardship for people on a fixed income.
For now, streets with the most sinkhole activity, like a portion of Willow Brook Court, will remain blocked to traffic, according to Laine. The county also erected a fence around the retention area where a lot of holes formed.