The sinkhole in Miranda and Jason Hill's yard extends under their driveway, which is cracking from being pulled down as the ground sinks lower.
The sinkhole in Miranda and Jason Hill's yard extends under their driveway, which is cracking from being pulled down as the ground sinks lower.

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Sinkhole causes concern at Clanton residence

Published 6:06pm Monday, March 18, 2013

Miranda and Jason Hill of Clanton didn’t know the home improvements they started recently would include repairing a large sinkhole in their yard this month.

A hole measuring roughly 12 inches across when they moved into their house five years ago gradually expanded to about 3–4 feet across—enough to swallow a large metal grate they had placed over the hole to prevent people or objects from potentially falling in.

Jason said the portion of the hole visible to them measures 8 feet deep but could extend to 12 feet or more in areas underground.

Jason Hill measures the visible portion of the hole Monday afternoon at 8 feet deep.
Jason Hill measures the visible portion of the hole Monday afternoon at 8 feet deep.

Miranda referred to the hole as a “trench drain” for rainwater and an underground spring flowing through their sloping yard, under their driveway and out into a water retention area near their house where excess water collects.

“It seems like this area is lower,” she said, pointing to the indentations in their front yard near the hole that have become more pronounced over the last few years. “It just took that long for it (the hole) to get this big and noticeable.”

In addition to the grate falling in, a warning sign the couple noticed was a series of growing cracks in their asphalt driveway.

Sinkholes are naturally occurring geologic features commonly found in Florida that are caused by ground water circulating and breaking down carbonate deposits in the land.

Sinkholes can cause extensive, sometimes catastrophic, damage to property, including buildings and roads. Major collapses produced by sinkholes have been known to swallow homes, cars and people.

Miranda said their sinkhole has not harmed anyone or anything yet, but she and her husband are anxious to have it fixed as soon as possible to prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

The Hills have arranged for Michael Smitherman and his crew to repair the hole, a process that will entail digging as deep as the hole is and all the way across, installing a French drain, filling it up with two-inch rocks and dirt and installing a large cement pipe to run under the driveway.

The couple is not sure how much repairing the sinkhole will cost, but since it is on their property and not the county’s, they will have to pay for it themselves.

Until then, the Hills and anyone visiting their house will have to drive through their yard to bypass the driveway.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Miranda said. “I think if it hadn’t been for that underground spring, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

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