TARPON SPRINGS — Nathaniel and Virginia Crawford are shopping for a new home and trying to look to the future, but they still are grieving over having to leave a lifetime of possessions and memories behind.
In June, the couple of 64 years fled their South Disston Avenue home with only the clothes on their backs after sinkholes suddenly opened in their yard and left their house teetering.
In front of their home, an enormous sinkhole yawned open in the street.
The condition of the Crawfords' property is so hazardous that they haven't been able to retrieve their belongings from the house where they lived for 50 years. The property is fenced off and posted.
Disston Avenue also remains closed to traffic. The city authorized nearly $50,000 of work to repair the road and the hole was filled with 25 dump truck loads of dirt. Public Works director Tom Funcheon said the work should be completed and the road reopened by Friday.
Meanwhile, the Crawfords are living with one of their daughters in Clearwater and shopping for a new home in the Holiday area of Pasco County. They had sinkhole insurance and have received a check for the loss of their home. They are awaiting an insurance settlement for the home's contents.
Until June 16, the small ranch-style house had been the family's gathering spot. The Crawfords raised their five children there and hosted family reunions and Sunday dinners.
"It's going to be hard, real hard," Virginia Crawford said of leaving everything behind. "There are different things in there that are very important and dear to us, but we can't get them out. But we just thank God everyone is safe and no one was hurt."
Ernest Crawford, 59, said it's difficult to watch his parents start over. He said there is still sinkhole activity underneath the home, with the sinkhole in the back yard continuing to grow. A July 11 report by Tierra Inc., a geotechnical engineering firm from Tampa, said the Disston Avenue area has a moderate to high potential for sinkhole development.
"It's devastating to us," Ernest Crawford said. "We never thought anything like this would happen to the place we grew up in. It's the last thing we ever thought. But my parents are taking it a lot better than I really thought they would."
Contact Demorris A. Lee at [email protected] or (727) 445-4174.