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Sinkhole eating family out of house and home

3:34 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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(CNN) -- The sinkhole first opened up in August of 2011, a relatively small thing, 2 feet wide and 5 feet deep.

But in the 15 months since then, Florida couple John and Tina Furlow have watched helplessly as the sinkhole expands, threatening to swallow their bedroom.

"Now it's approximately 8, 9 feet long," John Furlow told CNN affiliate WFLA last month at their home in Hernando County on Florida's west coast.

"Every day, in our bedroom, we lay down and look up and there's more and more cracks. We're just, 'hey look, there's another one,'" said his wife.

The growing cavern underneath their bedroom is reminiscent of another sinkhole in nearby Hillsborough County that claimed the life of Jeff Bush.

Authorities demolished the house after they couldn't recover Bush's body from the massive hole that opened up under his bedroom. That sinkhole was about 20 feet wide and 50 to 60 feet deep, and the suburban Tampa house was in danger of collapsing.

For the Furlows, the nightmare has developed much more slowly.

Cracks have begun to appear on walls and floors, and the couple now sleeps in a different bedroom. They removed heavy furniture from their bedroom in hopes of buying more time.

The couple told WFLA that they made a claim with their insurance company, but that a year and a half later there has been no resolution.

A sinkhole can be catastrophic, as the incident that took Bush's life showed.

New video obtained by CNN affiliate Bay News 9 shows the inside of the sinkhole that claimed his life. The video was taken by Hillsborough County officials before the house was demolished. It was recorded by attaching a camera to a pole that reached into Bush's bedroom through a window.

The video shows a cavernous hole that left just the edges of the floor around the bedroom.

Bush's brother, Jeremy, had jumped in the hole to try to rescue his brother, but only after he saw the video did he understand how large it was, and why officials pulled him out.

"It is totally different than what I thought it was," he told Bay News 9.

Sinkholes are common in the state, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Florida lies on bedrock made of limestone or other carbonate rock that can be eaten away by acidic groundwater, forming voids that collapse when the rock can no longer support the weight of what's above it.

 

CNN

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