LAND O' LAKES (FOX 13) - One of the first Pasco County deputies to arrive on the scene of a sinkhole that swallowed two homes helped people get their valuables just before the hole began to grow.
Deputy Jason Murphy helped people quickly get to safety Friday morning. He got to the scene about 27 minutes after the call came out.
Firefighters had already saved two dogs from the first home, just before it caved in. Deputy Murphy went to the home next door and found three women inside - one of them elderly, with a walker.
He got them outside, just in time. The hole was growing.
“At this point, it had spread quite quickly. We were able to see suction coming in, where foam from the top was being pulled under the ground, and at that point, large chunks of the ground were caving in,” Deputy Murphy said Friday evening during a press conference.
In spite of that, Deputy Murphy went back into the house with one of the women and a firefighter to get her medication and some important documents. He says while they were in there, the hole started spreading faster.
“So the ground was coming out from under the house, so they were yelling for us to get out,” Deputy Murphy recalled. “[It] could go in at any minute and follow the one that went in before that.”
Those who live near the sinkhole, meanwhile, are anxious and frightened that it will destroy their homes, too.
Some of these neighbors had no idea they lived near something like this. They have already started getting their belongings out in case they are next to become unlucky.
There could hardly be a bigger reason to run from your home.
“I went outside to see what was up. At first, I thought someone maybe died, it was just a sinkhole, I say ‘just,’ but it is a pretty big sinkhole,” neighbor Austin Mann said.
Mann and Shelbi Currey grabbed their pets, and their valuables, and headed out as the sinkhole took down two homes and threatened nine others.
“I feel like people should evacuate. You never know, I heard it keeps growing,” Currey said.
The evacuation wasn't mandatory, as some stayed close by to watch. Several said they had no idea the first home that was swallowed had previous sinkhole problems.
“You see sinkholes all the time in Florida, a lot, and some of them grow to a certain size, but I don't think we have ever seen something big enough that is going to extend that far down the road. I am really not that worried about it,” another neighbor, Eric Worsham said.
Mann said they were going to their parents, because, it seemed like, being as far away as possible made the most sense.
“I doubt anything bad will happen. But just in case, I have the time,” Mann added.
On Friday night, there were no mandatory evacuations, but nine families left anyway, just in case. The Red Cross was helping those who needed it.