Sinkhole opens, expands in the Villages; Crews fill hole with dirt

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SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. —

Residents in the Villages were shocked Wednesday when they awoke to find a sinkhole that had been filled earlier this week continued to expand.

The 50-foot deep sinkhole opened up over the weekend between two homes on Chalmer Terrace and forced the residents to evacuate.

"The hole got larger and deeper," said resident Giovanni Velocci.

"I was quite surprised, because they had the geologist out here and they basically said those houses wouldn't even need sink hole insurance because it was really secure," said resident Joy Winkler.

A repair crew had pumped 40 truckloads of grout, weighing 5 million pounds into the growing hole to fix it, but that grout was found inside the newly expanded sinkhole on Wednesday. Officials said the sinkhole spread another 6 to 10 feet.

"Unfortunately, Mother Nature has her own agenda," said Gina Lambert of the Villages Public Safety Department.

Channel 9's Myrt Price asked if the concrete may have contributed to the new problem.

"No. That's how they mitigate sinkhole damage," said Lambert. "That's a common practice for them.  Again, Mother Nature is going to do what Mother Nature is going to do."

The Villages Public Safety officials said crews will probably pour cement to fill it.

"We pay a price for our tropical environment," said Lambert.

Residents said they have many questions and fear for their homes.

"Is this something that's going to be corrected or is it going to continue and open up in other areas?" asked resident Frank Miller.

Lambert said only the two homes were impacted. One is a rental property and the renters were scheduled to move out over the weekend. The other owners only live there seasonally and were not there when the sinkhole opened up.

Public safety said it doesn't expect to order any evacuations.

Dozens of dump trucks dropped dirt off at the site while bulldozers spent the day filling the hole with it.

But neighbors told Channel 9 they're worried the trouble is not over.

"You think it's stabilized, you've got a handle on it, and then all of a sudden it opens up again and starts moving. That's pretty scary," Miller said.

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