At least four homes have reported activity in the same neighborhood where a large sinkhole opened up Thursday morning, swallowing portions of two residences, FOX 13's Alcides Segui reports.
The owner of one of those homes, Michael Dupre, said for two years he's been living in fear that something like this would happen.
Now, his family is living a nightmare, and neighbors fear the same could happen to them.
Around 5:15 a.m., the earth opened up in his backyard and underneath his home – a gaping hole that engineers estimate is 35 feet wide, 30 feet deep, and growing.
Dupre has insurance through Citizens, which is run by the state. He said about two years ago he noticed cracks in the structure, so he contacted his insurance company.
They told him he needed to get it fixed. He said he got a second opinion, and those engineers got caught up in an on-going dispute with Citizens.
Dupre said he's contacted his attorney.
"They didn't want to listen to the report. They were just ignoring it," he claimed. "It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and after the Seffner incident happened, we got scared to live in this house."
Dupre said the insurance company and engineers disagreed on how to fix it. This was up until days ago, he said.
Dupre said he's distraught – but thankful no one got hurt.
In Seffner earlier this year, a sinkhole opened up underneath a home and swallowed a man in his bedroom. His body was never found.
Dupre's daughter, Ivy, first heard the noise this morning. She said it sounded like a sledgehammer. She thought someone was breaking in.
Incredibly, a second hole opened up by her bedroom, but she was not sleeping in her bed. Last night, she said she slept on the couch.
"At first my parents weren't sure because we have a dog, and if someone was breaking in, they figured the dog would bark," she said. "But she didn't bark, so my dad went and checked."
Fire and rescue crews rushed to the scene, telling them to get whatever they could and get out of the home.
Pat Simon, a neighbor, was told the same thing. Her husband was eating breakfast when an officer knocked on the door.
"He said get out, and George came through the bedroom, threw on the light, and said, 'Get out!' Simon said.
She grabbed a sweater, the family dog, and left her home.
Dupre says this problem is widespread in the neighborhood. At least four other homes in the area have reported sinkhole activity, and there is growing fear around the area.
His neighbor's home had one open up underneath a bedroom.
"We're not allowed to go in. It's still active. It's still moving, I hear," Dupre said.
205 N. Michigan Avenue
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