Crews begin backfilling the Seffner sinkhole where a man died 10 years ago

As the day progressed, a slow but steady parade of gravel trucks began to arrive to meet the heavy equipment.

SEFFNER, Florida. Efforts are underway to fill this deadly crater in Seffner.

Crews with heavy equipment began moving gravel on Monday, and Hillsborough County engineers oversaw the project.

“The hole is what it is, but we’re here to keep people safe,” said John-Paul Lavandeira of Hillsborough County Code Enforcement.

As the day progressed, a slow but steady parade of gravel trucks began to arrive to meet the heavy equipment.

Workers carefully scooped tons of litter into the funnel, keeping what they hope was a safe distance of at least 20 feet so as not to destabilize it.

“It’s a void in the earth,” Lavandeira said. “You don’t want to push heavy equipment to the limit and try to take risks. Especially with a piece of equipment that has a long arm that can reach far. It’s just a risk that we didn’t see fit. be taken.”

In 2013, a similar sinkhole formed under a house, resulting in the death of Jeffrey Bush. Three houses had to be demolished. The pit was filled in and the site was fenced off. But in 2015 it reopened.

At the time, engineers used the same mixture of gravel and water to create a porous plug that allows water to seep in and hopefully prevents other sinkholes from forming in the same area.

“No one wants to repeat themselves. This is not an ideal solution,” Lavandeira said. “But if it does happen, let it come to a place where we can control the situation and keep everyone safe, and also have a plan of attack to solve this problem.”

Luckily, the funnel seems to be stable.

County workers say that while it took several days to get everything in order and find a qualified contractor, there is no indication that any of the nearby homes are in danger.

“We have just inspected the neighboring houses. We talked with neighbors. No clear signs were noticed,” Lavandeira said. “When you see things like big stress fractures or see things where doors don’t open or close. Unusual noises that neighbors or landlords contacting you may witness. We checked them out and everyone was safe and able to walk. … And when we later brought an engineer here, they saw no reason to worry on that front either. So it’s in our favor.

Another indication that the sinkhole is still very deep is that, in addition to the gravel, water carriers were in place.

By noon, they poured over 5,000 gallons into the hole, only to see it disappear, seeping into these underground voids.

They hope the hole doesn’t open again, but if it does, they say it’s what should have happened – a predictable, controlled opening that they can fence off for public safety. And then replenish again.

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