HOLIDAY — The sinkhole that swallowed a driveway on Calais Drive will soon be filled — at no charge to the senior homeowner.
Brooksville-based Advanced Pier Technology has volunteered to plug the hole and replace the driveway.
Company owner Taylor Yarkosky, also known as "the sinkhole guy," said the job could be finished by Friday or Saturday, depending on the weather. He even rented a car for the home's owner, Carol Bowers, because her own car, a Honda del Sol, is stuck in the garage.
No one is sure how and when the hole formed.
Bowers said she ventured outside early Sunday and noticed nothing wrong. She went inside to eat an egg sandwich in the kitchen and came back out about 9 a.m. That's when she saw the hole. It had gobbled the driveway, a trash can and some shrubbery.
She didn't hear anything.
"Nothing. Not a thing. Good thing I didn't back the car out," she said, adding that she had been thinking about heading to the grocery store.
Bowers, 73, who lives on a fixed income, found herself in a financial bind. She didn't know what to do or whom to call.
"I couldn't call my insurance company," she said. "I ended up calling 911."
She had canceled her sinkhole coverage a few years ago because of escalating premiums and deductibles. She learned that fixing the hole and replacing the driveway together could run tens of thousands of dollars — jobs that were too costly for her to undertake.
Enter Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who was following the story in the Tampa Bay Times and on TV.
He checked with Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker about whether he could call a few sinkhole remediation companies and then spoke with Yarkosky, "who stepped up to the plate."
"I'm just happy it worked out for her," Fasano said.
Bowers, who's staying with friends but can still visit the house, said she was mulling her options Tuesday when a county emergency official called about Yarkosky's offer.
"I was so excited," she said.
The work will take two or three days. Yarkosky said he'll first remove the concrete and other debris to get a closer look, then use sand and clay compacted together to plug the hole. Last, he'll pour the concrete driveway.
The house wasn't damaged.
"Not one crack, which is pretty remarkable," Yarkosky said.
He said he isn't sure what triggered the hole, which runs 20 feet deep, and speculated that a void might have formed as the aquifer receded, weakening the ground. "You have caverns and aquifers like this all over Florida," he said.
On Wednesday, Bowers was in her kitchen making lasagna for neighbors who had allowed her to stay. "So many nice people have helped me," she said.
Yarkosky said the project would have set Bowers back $10,000, not including a geological survey, which could have run another $5,000.
"We've been fortunate to help hundreds of homeowners in Florida, and any time we have an opportunity like this, we're glad to help," he said.
Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.