Article Courtesy of The St. Petersburg Times
TARPON SPRINGS — First it was a front yard with six cars parked on it. Then it was a sinkhole.
Anitra Merricks and her family saw it unfold slowly about 6 p.m. Thursday. They had just come outside after the earth gave in with a yawning boom behind her grandmother's home at 709 S Disston Ave.
That was a small one.
They walked through the house and out to the front, where relatives had parked their automobiles, including Merricks' Mercury Milan. Then they heard a rumbling from the street.
1958, was unsafe for Merricks' grandparents, Virginia Crawford, 83, and Nathaniel Crawford, 90, to stay in.
The Crawfords, who moved in more than 50 years ago, will have to find a new home, Merricks said. Officials also evacuated a home next door. The American Red Cross was assisting residents with temporary shelter.
Earlier in the day, the Crawfords had summoned an engineering company to the home after they noticed cracks along the interior walls.
They suspected sinkholes, which are common in the area, but were stunned when the ground began giving away around them.
By early evening, two more craters had formed behind the Crawfords' home, one 12 feet wide and 7 feet deep, the other 25 feet wide and 13 feet deep. A concrete shed as large as a garage fell into one, and part of the Crawfords' block home was also slipping in.
Officials were investigating what caused the sinkholes to form.
"We don't know why it happened," Funcheon said. "We believe it's natural, but we can't say for sure right now."
The sinkholes snapped part of a sewer line, but service in the area won't be affected, Funcheon said. Police also had blocked off the road surrounding the sinkholes.
Merricks said losing the home, where relatives and friends gathered nearly every day, will be hard on the tight-knit family.
"This is our home away from home. To see this happen is kind of crazy," she said. "You see sinkholes on TV but for it to unfold in front of your eyes, it's unbelievable."