On the afternoon of July 19, Fairview resident Trish Parker wanted to get her yard cut before the predicted rain later that evening generated another grass growth spurt. Imagine the shock when Trish and her husband Dean walked outside the next morning to discover what was generated in their side yard was a super-sized sinkhole.
“My wife just cut the grass in that very spot yesterday,” explained Dean, as he looked down into the ten-foot-wide hole.
The sinkhole is located along the property line between the Parker’s property and neighbors Michael and Jennifer King. It sits approximately 75 feet from the Parker’s home and 105 feet from the center line of Cumberland Drive.
The Parkers began making calls and Williamson County Emergency Management arrived on the scene to do an initial assessment, placing caution tape around the sink hole so that nearby neighborhood children would be warned of the danger.
Family friend and local resident Steven Brison came by on Sunday afternoon and rappelled down into the nine-foot wide hole for a closer look.
Brison observed the sink hole was approximately 50 feet deep with underground cave-like rooms and what appeared to be a tunnel. He went into the sinkhole armed with a lot of courage and his iPhone, which enabled him to capture photographs and video of the hole. Brison suggested Dean Parker’s new “man cave” was very likely the result of the heavy rain the prior night.
The homeowners placed calls to the City of Fairview and Williamson County, but being such a rare occurrence, officials were not able to offer much assistance.
“We need to know who to contact that can come out here and tell us if the ground around the hole or leading to the road is stable,” said Dean Parker. “There are kids in this neighborhood, and animals that could just fall in there. Not to mention, it’s very close to our house.”
After multiple referrals, Parker was directed to contact Gerald Moni with Cave Now, a home-based Nashville business experienced in cave expeditions. Moni was all too happy to come out with a crew of professional cave divers and explore the Parker’s sinkhole last Thursday.
Moni determined what appeared in the dark to Brison to be a tunnel leading towards Cumberland Drive was in fact a passage way. But the passage way narrowed to 6 inches upon exploration by cave diver Emily Davis. “That was good to hear,” said Trish Parker. The cave divers also noted the largest cave or room was approximately 10 feet by 10 feet wide with an eight-foot ceiling.
Davis also found an 8-foot tunnel that led in the opposite direction of Cumberland Drive towards a neighbor living behind the Parkers on Grammar Drive. The experienced cavers suggested the hole be filled as further rains could only exasperate the problem.
The Parkers say they felt better prepared to deal with “closing down their man cave after speaking with the cave diving team.” However, at press time, they were uncertain who would be responsible for actually filling in the hole.
July 2012 began with burn bans and warnings after a state of severe drought. But before it was all said and done, this July became the fourth wettest July in recorded history, according to the Nashville office of the National Weather Service.
The rainfall plot indicates that 5.31 inches of rain fell the night of July 19 in an area that encompasses the Hickman and Williamson County lines. A radius expanding into Fairview shows that most of us received 3.41 to 4.1 inches of rain that night.
Luckily for Trish Parker, she mowed her yard on Thursday before the first drop ever fell.