A family has been evacuated from their Plant City home because the ground beneath it has opened up. Now, engineers will have to determine how big the sinkhole is, and if the house can be saved.
It's been 72 hours of chaos for Tom Manus and his family, who live on Country Hills Court North in Plant City, off Turkey Creek Road.
"It's actually a sinkhole up underneath the house here. It probably goes out 10-12 feet, a big circle, and it just caves out. I'm not sure exactly how deep it goes," Manus said.
Saturday afternoon, their normal life turned upside down.
"I just felt the whole ground shake. Just like something let go. And it sounded like someone hit the back wall outside my house. But it was actually the dirt falling from underneath the house," he said.
The fire marshal told the family -- including Tom, his wife, daughter Lindsey, and Lindsey's 10-month-old daughter Arabella -- that they had to get out.
"He said if you want anything valuable out of your house, you better get it now. Because they most likely won't let you back in," Lindsey said.
Members of two churches descended on their house, loading everything they own into trucks and trailers.
An engineering company came Tuesday with ground-penetrating radar to see how big the voids are.
The hope is that concrete can fill it. But Tom doubts what kind of fix that will be.
"Because it's a sinkhole. Even when they pour concrete, there's still a void deeper down. They don't start at the top. There has to be something at the bottom that caused it," he said.
Walking his property, Tom found where concrete blocks are separating along a wall.
And with all the rain they got last week, the sinkhole is dry -- so where did all the water go?
Tom says he doubts his family will ever move back in.
"I love the house. I've been in it for 18 and a half years. It's home. But I don't think I could ever live back in here again."
Meanwhile, a Bob Evans restaurant in Seffner was closed over the weekend after a likely sinkhole caused cracks to open in the structure. Experts will be assessing that scene as well.
Earlier this year, a Seffner man died when a sinkhole opened up underneath his bedroom during the night. The home was condemned and his body was never recovered.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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