Recovery crew discovers cash in Land O’Lakes sinkhole

by Michael Mosher on August 9, 2017



LAND O’LAKES — As contractors floated on a barge early Tuesday morning, ripping apart cinder blocks and roof trusses from one of the homes in Lake Padgett Estates consumed by a huge sinkhole, they crushed a refrigerator with a backhoe.

Out tumbled something unlike anything they’d seen since they began their cleanup work last week: $1,900 in cash.

“As devastating as this has been, this will be good for the people who lived there,” said John G. “Gary” Grubbs, owner of Grubbs Emergency Services of Hudson, which provided the barge. “It’s not a whole lot, but it’s something.”

The stack of $100 bills, surprisingly dry until the money flopped into the sullied water, was turned over to the house’s renters, Steve and Lavonne Jakubiec. Their home at 21835 Ocean Pines Drive was destroyed by the 260-foot-wide void that opened up July 14.

Contractors also salvaged a computer and a file cabinet full of documents belonging to the Jakubiecs, according to Kevin Guthrie, assistant county administrator for public safety.

The computer was sheltered by a section of collapsed roof and “fired right back up,” Guthrie said.

Debris removal began at the hole late last week after the county approved $1.3 million for the first phase of cleanup. Contractors expect to be done by Aug. 18, and to come in under budget by as much as $200,000.

On Friday, work was temporarily halted after large chunks of the sinkhole’s edge crumbled inward. The hole has since been stabilized, and several semitrailers worth of debris have been removed from it. The county has set aside space at the local landfill to lay recovered items out to dry.

The natural disaster has so far caused the county to condemn seven Lake Padgett Estates homes, including the two that fell into the hole.

As of Tuesday, the United Way of Pasco County had collected $41,000 for the affected families.

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