Sinkhole damages homes in Watertown trailer park

by Michael Mosher on October 27, 2017

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WATERTOWN — Nancy F. Gossiaux was sitting in her living room on Monday afternoon when she heard crackling, a little snap and then a big thud before her entire trailer suddenly tilted at a 30-degree angle.

Ms. Gossiaux didn’t know what happened.

The Kelsey Creek overflowed its banks and its flooded waters surged through Evergreen Park on LeRay Street, causing a 50-foot-long, 8-foot-deep sinkhole and forcing five families to be evacuated from their homes.

Her daughter, Heidi L. England, had just stopped over to see how she was doing when the ground opened up about 2 p.m., leaving the trailer swaying to one side.

“I thought ‘what was that?’” she said sitting in a black Jeep SUV with her 5-year-old poodle, Tangie, on her lap.

Initially, she wasn’t going to leave, but her daughter instructed her, “get out,” she said.

A torrential downpour came down most of the day on Monday. In the morning, the water started to surround her and her neighbors’ homes. The rain kept coming and coming and coming until a river ended up going through a section of the trailer park on the city’s north side, she said.

The sinkhole left two trailers dangling, with a 3-foot waterfall at one of the sinkhole and raging waters smashing underneath.

The Watertown Fire Department made sure residents were safe. National Grid was called to the scene to shut power off and a work crew from a Clayton excavation company arrived to do something about the sinkhole.

Ms. Gossiaux planned to stay with her daughter on Monday night, with the hopes of hearing today about what will happen to her home of more than 20 years. It might be jacked up and then moved, she been told.

Mrs. England was allowed to go into her mother’s trailer for a couple of minutes to retrieve a few things. Despite its precarious situation, there was no apparent damage to the interior.

“It was like walking in a fun house,” she said.

Another woman, who was evacuated, was going to talk to local American Red Cross officials about getting a place to stay for the night. A couple in another trailer was told to leave but remained in their home late Monday afternoon.

The man has Parkinson’s Disease, so it’s hard for him to get around, Ms. Gossiaux said.

By late afternoon, workers used heavy equipment to fill the large hole with rocks. The creek water receded by then.

Yet Richard Reid, who lives a couple of doors down, was still worried what the next hours would bring.

“I’m going to pack the cats and go,” he told a neighbor. “I don’t know where, but we’ll go.”

Ms. Gossiaux has homeowner’s insurance but didn’t know whether flooding from a creek would cover it.

The trailer park was hit by a sinkhole last spring in that same area when it swallowed a storage shed, he recalled.

Joseph Filipi and his wife, Pam, live in a trailer not impacted by the flooding. He walked down to assess the situation.

“Boy, it did a lot of damage,” he said.

The section of the creek flows underneath a part of the trailer park.

Jon C. Lennox, the trailer park’s owner, couldn’t be reached for comment.



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