Chris Cook heard the suction from inside his house Sunday night.
It was dark, windy and raining. He saw the water stretching beyond the edge of the retention pond behind a row of homes along Nodding Shade Drive. It was inching toward the pole to his bird house, which is about 20 paces from his back porch.
In the Trillium community of Brooksville, at least 15 sinkholes sliced up several front and back yards. DAVE KRAUT/News Channel 8
Cook shined his flashlight to the left. He was joined outside by his next-door neighbor, who was hearing the same sounds.
He saw the whirlpool. He knew the depression underneath the flowing water was a fresh sinkhole.
In 24 hours, he saw 14 more open up in his neighborhood — some of them deeper than 20 feet.
Based on what he’s heard during the previous 72 hours, he now immediately recognizes the sound of the ground collapsing into a sinkhole.
“Oh, I could hear the booms from my living room,” he said. “It sounds like a big piece of furniture falling over. The whole house shakes.”
Calls from several homeowners were made to Pulte, the developer of Trillium of Brooksville, located along County Line Road, a short distance east of Spring Hill.
A few of them said they aren’t getting any answers.
“They clammed up,” said Cook, who also made calls to his insurance company, the homeowners association and the county.
One of his neighbor’s has a sinkhole in his front yard.
Kelly Gregoire, who lives next door, had one sinkhole open a few feet from her 3-year-old’s swing set. She dismantled a portion of it and moved it closer to the house so that it wouldn’t fall inside.
“All of a sudden you hear this, ‘woosh,'” she said, describing the last sinkhole she heard. “Everything just crashes down. It’s crazy.”
One of the holes that opened Monday morning swallowed a couple trees about 15 yards from Cook’s property.
Mike Berros saw one third of his backyard disappear after a 25-foot-deep hole opened that same day.
He said the water was rushing out of it like a geyser.
Beginning today, the homeowners association will begin “earth-moving activities” in an effort to fill in the holes.
“We ask for your cooperation and patience as we mobilize the appropriate equipment necessary to make these repairs and undertake corrective actions,” wrote Adam Smith, the board president.
He stated all homeowners who have detected sinkhole activities should contact their insurance companies.
Cook, who has lived at Trillium for six years, said promises have been made about filling the sinkholes in the retention pond — property owned by Pulte. No guarantees have been made about holes on his or his neighbor’s property.
“You trust your builder to do the right thing and build on a safe area and obviously this isn’t safe,” he said.
Sinkholes have cropped up across the county. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office reported about 30 in the area of Mariner Boulevard and Claymore Street.
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In related news:
A trio of gaping holes opened Monday on a taxiway at the Hernando County Airport, affecting one of the entrances to the Army Air National Guard facility. Kim Poppke, marketing and property coordinator for the airport, said the airport is operational and repairs have already begun.
Poppke said the holes are roughly six feet deep and up to eight feet wide.