Insurance agents have declared the Windermere home a complete loss where a massive sinkhole opened up Thursday in the back yard.
Contractors spent the day Friday driving in stakes to keep people away from the sinkhole that swallowed up the back yard of a home on Indian Deer Road, which is in the Summerport community.
The hole estimated by some to be 100 feet wide and 50 feet deep shocked neighbors. An engineer who surveyed the sinkhole Friday confirmed it was a little smaller than that. Still, 60 feet wide and 30 feet deep makes for one massive hole.
“Sinkholes tend to happen after droughts when there's a large difference between the surface water table and the underlying aquifer,” said Daniel Stanfil from Geotechnical Consultants.
They think the hole has stabilized, but neighbors weren't taking any chances, packing up and moving out.
Bryan Denis, who lives in the home next door, said his family -- including two boys, ages 7 and 10 -- is also moving out.
"Our has hasn't been deemed unlivable, but it's way too close to the house," said Denis. "It's actually part of the yard now. I don't want my kids anywhere near it."
Kristin Jacobson is also worried about her home.
“I just moved here a month ago so I spent all my money just to move in,” Jacobson said. “I've had a lot of expenses moving here so to find out that now I have a sinkhole next door and I don't have any sinkhole coverage on my insurance.”
Lou Lambros, who was renting the home where the sinkhole opened up, is moving out, but considers himself lucky.
”Just the night before my son was in the hammock at the bottom of the pit with the trees so I was blessed,” Lambros said.
Jacobson bought her home, and hopes the odds are in her favor.
“I figure if there's a sinkhole there. What are the changes? There's most likely not one under my house because you wouldn't think that hopefully another one would be so close but I have to get that verification,” Jacobson said.
Clearly emotional, Jacobson is trying to keep the faith.
“Just moved in,” Jacobson said. “Spent all my money to get into this house and now this is going on next door. I'm really hoping they're going to get in and get it stabilized and filled in quickly.”
The owner of the impacted home has already announced his plans to sell.
We talked to a geotechnical engineer about what it would take to fill this hole and get this house back on the market.
“We are probably looking at underpinning steel rods are hydraulically driven to the bedrock and then bolted to the foundation that will stabilize the home,” said Tom Wilson from Certified Foundations.
Property Manager Angela Chapman showed us cracks that had been growing slowly on the home, indicators of unsettled soil.
She said the owner is lucky insurance will cover the damages.
“I would absolutely review your policy for sinkhole coverage,” Chapman said. “If you are a new homebuyer, this is now considered an additional charge. You need to make sure you have sinkhole coverage.”
Although some homeowners already have this coverage, this extra charge can average from $300 to $500.
We’re told it will be at least a month to fill in the hole. They can then get borers and ground-penetrating radar in to find out how stable the Earth is underneath the home.
1981 Winter Park sinkhole
The Windermere sinkhole is nothing compared to the 1981 Winter Park sinkhole.
“Never wanna see nothing like that again,” said Frank Haines.
Hanes has lived in the Winter Park neighborhood near Fairbanks Avenue and Denning Drive since 1948.
He said Lake Rose looks like your normal fishing pond, but it was once a 350-foot wide and 75-foot deep abyss.
“Where it started at, I used to live in a house right there,” Haines said. “It started in the front yard just like something cooking on the stove, bubbling.”
Top 10 sinkholes in the world
Two of the world's top sinkholes, according to China's Xinhua News Agency, opened up in Central Florida:
- Guatemala City (2010)
- Guatemala City (2007)
- Winter Park (1981)
- Mulberry (1994)
- Great Blue Hole, Belize
- Pincher, Oklahoma (2008)
- Iceland Sinkhole
- Ik-Kil Cenote, Mexico
- Lisbon, Portugal (2003)
- Neversink Pit, Alabama