Sinkhole swallows front yard in town of Unicoi

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A sinkhole 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide swallowed a front yard in the town of Unicoi.

And the sinkhole has the potential of getting even bigger.

"If you were standing there when that sink hole occurred-- it's like a vacuum cleaner effect-- you would be sucked down with it," explained the county road superintendent, Terry Haynes.

This sinkhole may stem from another. Around the corner, a similar sinkhole appeared several years ago.

"Back four or five years ago, I filled sinkhole right above the new one. This latest one may have been caused by the big one we had before," said Haynes.

Sharon Hopsen lives down the street from the sinkhole and is alarmed.

"I worry about it being in our area, around our house. It's a concern," said Hopsen.

The previous sinkhole cost the town more than $40,000 to repair. Mayor Johnny Lynch says because the new hole encroaches into the roadway, the town is once again partially responsible for repairs.

"It is a fairly expensive ordeal when you have to deal with these things," said Mayor Lynch.

Haynes says limestone may be at the root of the cause of the sinkholes.

"Limestone tends to have caverns in it. All those homes near the sinkhole are built on limestone," said Haynes.

The town is working on surveying the damage to take the right steps to move ahead with repairs.

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