10 sinkholes open in Ocala, Florida, 8 homes evacuated

10 sinkholes open in Ocala, Florida, 8 homes evacuated

At least 10 new sinkholes formed near a retention pond in the Wynchase at Fore Ranch neighborhood in Ocala, Florida on April 25 and 26, 2018, forcing authorities to evacuate 8 homes. This area is located in Florida's 'Sinkhole Alley.' Some of the sinkholes are up to 8 m (25 feet) wide.

The Ocala Police Department said the holes were reported shortly after 15:15 local time Wednesday, April 25. Police spokeswoman Meghan Shay said the area is prone to sinkholes. Firefighters initially said they might have been caused by a broken irrigation line, but officials later said they no longer believe that to be the case.

Shortly after authorities were notified, 8 townhomes were evacuated. 

Officials were testing the ground and said they wouldn't lift evacuations until it was determined that residents were safe to return, the report added.

"I don't really know how to explain what it did in the water, but it looked like explosions across the water. There was at least four to five of them that happened," resident Shannon Cole told ClickOrlando.com, describing what he heard while the sinkholes formed. "It sounded like a bomb going off. It was very loud."

Some residents said they heard bizarre noises inside their own homes as the incident played out. 

"Kind of like a popping noise that we heard before," resident Richard Morang said. "In the downstairs bathroom, there’s cracks. We heard noises before, but they told us everything was OK, so I went back inside, and now, we see cracks in the bathroom."

Authorities used ground-penetrating radar on Thursday to determine the extent of the underground subsidence and to determine if the structures nearby are in danger.

By late afternoon, the terrain was nearly unrecognizable, as sinkholes continued to grow and develop around and under the pond, draining nearly all of the water.

Featured image: Sinkholes open in Ocala, Florida on April 25, 2018. Credit: Mark Lehman

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