Jackson County Times

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Whoosh!! There Goes The Front Yard!

Home in Bascom is suddenly surrounded by sink holes.
By Sid Riley

Can you imagine the feelings you would have if you had just bought a home for your family and yourself to live in a few months ago, and suddenly the home is sitting on the brink of a new sink hole created as the result of the heavy rains we recently experienced? Of course you must put the safety of your family ahead of any financial considerations, but the experience would certainly be serious and unpleasant.
That is what has happened to Stacy Tillman and his family. Nine months ago they bought an existing home just north of Bascom on Hummingbird Road. The house sits about 200 feet off the roadway, with a large, wooded front yard. After the heavy rains of last week the front yard was flooded, with a standing pool of water which spanned almost to the front of the house.
The rains ended and fears of flooding began to ease for the young family in their new home. Stacy Tillman was standing on his front porch about 8:00 AM Thursday morning when he noticed what appeared to be a small whirlpool forming in the standing water, out near the road. To his amazement, the whirlpool grew, and grew, until it was a rush of water flowing out of his yard into a gaping hole which was opening before his eyes! "At one point it slowed and almost stopped, apparently clogged by debris…but then it freed itself and the onrush of water resumed. When it was all over, I had this monster hole in the front yard, and a second hole over to the side of the house," Tillman explained.
The hole in front of the house is about twenty feet wide, approximately twenty feet across, and from ten to fifteen feet deep. The hole which formed to the side of the house is about ten feet by ten feet, but is over twenty feet deep. Inside this new sink hole you can see a limestone column which appears to be a stalagmite coming from the floor of a hidden cave under the property. Additionally, a small opening has developed at the corner foundation of the house. "We probed in that small opening and were unable to find a bottom", Tillman explains. "Also, across the front yard there are several small, new depressions which are probably future holes".
For the time being, Tillman and his family are making plans to move into temporary living quarters. It may be dangerous for them to remain in their home at this point.
The home is covered by homeowners insurance, but they are not sure what coverage is provided in the instance of a natural disaster such as a sink hole forming. Also, there is hope that some state or federal funding might exist for these situations.
Representatives of FEMA came by and took some pictures of the new sink holes, but this crew was merely surveying for general damages in the entire panhandle, especially to roadways, bridges and infrastructure. Their determination may result in disaster relief funding for these areas.
Meanwhile, the Tillman family is in a situation of forced evacuation as a result of an act of Mother Nature. We wish them good fortune and safety as they adjust to this problem.

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