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Work at Seffner sinkhole home continues

SEFFNER — After a massive sinkhole buried their next door neighbor Thursday night, Jeff Allen and his family left their home.

It was the home that Allen and his wife slowly renovated for the past three years. They had the house painted, installed a new air conditioner and renovated the master bedroom.

Now, a chain-link fence surrounds the house. A sign reads, "No Trespassing."

After the sinkhole formed at 240 Faithway Drive, officials deemed the Allens' house unsafe. They have not yet determined whether the family can move back in once the sinkhole next door is stabilized.

Stable or not, Allen said he and his family won't return.

"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "I highly doubt that I'll be able to go back in there."

Five days after a sinkhole swallowed Jeffrey Bush in his bedroom, residents along Faithway Drive expressed some unease at having tragedy so close to home.

Ricky Arey lives across the street from the now demolished house. Since Thursday night, he has watched engineers, fire rescue, TV trucks and demolition crews invade his street.

After the sinkhole formed, officials tested his yard. His home was on denser soil, they told him.

But his wife still can't sleep.

"How could you sleep?" he said. "Everybody's concerned."

Arey said he also frets about his homeowner's insurance rate increasing and the price of his home declining.

But, he added, "what are you going to do?"

Across the street, workers removed the house's foundation and dumped gravel on the sinkhole to stabilize it.

The homes on either side will also be examined, said Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz. It is unclear how long that would take.

A few houses down, Emilia Rosario lives with her two daughters and two grandchildren.

"We are a little scared," she said Tuesday, adding that a sinkhole inspector examined their home Monday. She plans to travel to the Dominican Republic soon and worries about leaving her family alone.

Other neighbors lingered by the crime scene tape still tethered across the road to catch a glimpse of the empty lot.

"It could happen anywhere," said neighbor Robert Forsythe. "We can't stop it."

Leon Fisher walked his Rottweiler, Ebony, near the scene Tuesday morning.

"If it happens, it happens," he said. "I'm just hoping they do put some kind of memorial for that man. He deserves it."

Some of Bush's loved ones gathered across the street on Arey's lawn.

Janell Wheeler, who lived inside the home where Bush died, said some family members are staying at a hotel. Others are with family. They expect to move into a rented home by next week, she said.

While workers demolished the home on Monday, a second sinkhole was discovered 2 miles to the northeast along Cedar Tree Lane beneath the fence that divides two side yards. Officials said Monday the sinkhole is unrelated to the one on Faithway Drive.

Along that street, some residents were also anxious about their homes.

"We are concerned because the situation is so close," said Robinson Murillo, who lives across the street from the sinkhole.

His neighbor, Lisbel Vargas, is waiting for insurance money to repair a crack in her living room wall. The new sinkhole is just one house away from her home.

On Monday night, Vargas slept in a motel.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Laura C. Morel can be reached at lmorel@tampabay.com or (813)226-3386.

Work at Seffner sinkhole home continues 03/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 5:02pm]
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