by: Michael Lopardi, WFTV Web Staff Updated:
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - Emergency management officials collected water samples to test for E. coli Monday in the immediate area where a sinkhole swallowed two homes Friday in Pasco County's Land O' Lakes neighborhood.
Water will be tested at 20 homes in the area, where many people use wells. Additional residents may have their water tested for a fee. Test results are expected to be completed by Tuesday afternoon.
Crews plan to encircle the stabilized sinkhole with a chain-link fence Monday.
An expert has proposed linking the opening with nearby Lake Saxon instead of filling it, but Pasco County officials said that is one of many options being considered.
County officials said they would plan meetings to decide what happens to the affected properties and surrounding neighborhoods.
"The county's working with all the homeowners in the vested interest just to make sure that we make the best decision for this community," said Pasco County spokesman Doug Tobin.
Officials said that families from four of the homes that were initially evacuated were allowed to return Saturday evening. Five other homes are still deemed unsafe for occupancy.
"It's stress. It's worrisome," said homeowner Emily Geldbaugh.
The sinkhole opened up Friday morning and grew to 225 feet in diameter and 50 feet deep, swallowing two homes and a boat. No one was injured.
It's a beautiful area around here, but when something like this happens, it's pretty terrifying," said homeowner James Geldbaugh.
The scene is being considered a hazardous materials incident because of possible septic tank issues and building debris.
"There were a couple septic tanks that were involved in this mishap. We'd like to make sure that there isn't an E-coli contamination at this point," said Tobin.
County officials said they're working with insurance adjusters and engineers to check the remaining homes for safety.
Two of the renters did not have insurance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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