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Giant sinkhole threatens to swallow house, forces family (and its pets) to flee


A giant sinkhole opend up just feet from a house in Windermere, Fla.

A Florida family got a rude awakening -- shortly followed by evacuation orders -- on Thursday morning when they discovered a gaping sinkhole just feet from their home.

"There's a hole in my backyard," Windermere, Fla., resident Lou Lambrose told the 911 operator just after 7 a.m. on Thursday when he first saw the hole, according to NBC station WESH.com. "How do you explain that?"

Lambrose said his wife, Denise, was getting their children ready for school when she noticed something odd behind the house.

"I ran downstairs with her and came outside with her and ... the grass was popping because it was falling into the ground," he said of the sinkhole, which is within three feet of the home, according to WESH.com. "So we immediately ran upstairs and got all of the kids out of the house."

"The building department did come out and they did do their assessment and deem the building unsafe," Genevieve Latham of Orange County Fire and Rescue said, reported WESH. "It is upsetting; this is their home. This is where they live and it's unsettling for them."

The Lambroses' pets were also evacuated safely, according to local media.

Four trees have been swallowed so far by the giant backyard hole, WFTV.com reported. A fifth is on the edge.

The Lambroses rent the home, and the homeowner has sinkhole insurance, WESH said.

More about the sinkhole on WESH.com

No other neighbors have been forced to evacuate, but the family next door isn't taking chances.

"It's way too close to the house," Bryan Denis, who lives next door with his two sons, told BayNews9.com"It's actually part of the yard now. I don't want my kids anywhere near it."

Windermere, Fla., located about 15 miles outside of Orlando, has suffered from Central Florida's monthslong drought, contributing to the sinkhole. The water table below the ground's surface dried out, resulting in everything on top of it dropping as well, experts told BayNews9.

A geologist surveyed the land Thursday afternoon to help decide what to do next, local reports said. By Friday, the hole had grown to 100 feet by 100 feet, larger than an NBA basketball court, said BayNews9.

It's not known when the Lambroses will be able to move back into their home. Lambrose said one of his kids was in the backyard on Wednesday evening, hours before the ground opened up, so all he cares about is that they are safe.

"My son was out there on the hammock," he said. "That's all I care about, is that my kids are OK and nobody got hurt. Completely scary. My brain has a hard time comprehending things like this. Only God knows how they happen, but I'm just thankful that we're all OK."

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