As what’s left of Tropical Storm Debby makes its way out to sea, Marion County is left to deal with what emergency management officials estimate to be 53 new sinkholes.
Most are not affecting structures or roadways. One of the largest holes has displaced the residents of eight townhouses in Fore Ranch.
The approximately 100-foot wide sinkhole opened Monday at the edge of a retention pond in the Wynchase section. One building was evacuated and remained vacant on Wednesday.
“Those units will remain evacuated until we can get in there and inspect the building to make sure it’s safe,” said Sonny Allen, city of Ocala spokesman.
Allen said the inspection will not occur until work to stabilize the sinkhole is completed.
On Wednesday, workers in heavy machinery were working around the sinkhole, which is behind buildings near Southwest 45th Circle.
It was not clear where the evacuees were staying or when work to stabilize the sinkhole will be completed.
Leland Management, which manages Fore Ranch, issued an email update on Wednesday.
“Magnum Construction is continuing its efforts to stabilize the area and fill in the existing sinkholes as recommended by the engineers and the Southwest Florida Water Management District,” the release stated.
The area is prone to sinkholes, with 13 reported in the community in the wake of this weekend’s storm, said Judge Cochran, Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Other large sinkholes have opened in the community in the past, including one in April 2011 and another in August 2010.
“The Wynchase Townhomes and Fore Ranch Master Associations are continuing their efforts to secure the area around the dry retention pond where there was sinkhole activity. Engineers have been using ground penetration radar in and around the area of the dry retention pond as well as around several buildings both in the Wynchase and Brighton communities. The associations are expecting the results in the next day or two,” the community’s update stated.
Sinkholes form when rock, typically limestone, beneath the surface is eroded by water flowing through the ground. The erosion leaves a void under the surface that eventually collapses into the void.
Larger sinkholes have swallowed vehicles and even homes. One sinkhole that opened up in the parking lot of Hughes Relocation Services on Monday left a moving truck teetering over the edge.