OCALA, Fla. (WSVN) — A pipe problem was exposed during a rainy day. Now, engineers are trying to determine what to do next.

Part of a parking lot was swallowed by a huge hole, and an expert said it could be the first of many.

“That is big, It’s a big hole,” Virginia Hargarten said.

Hargarten is a regular customer of a Vitamin Shoppe in Ocala, but on Wednesday, a 20-foot-deep sinkhole stopped her from being able to pick up what she needed.

“I feel sorry for the shop owners too,” Hargarten said. They have to be closed.”

So what caused this deep problem?

“What it looks like is a drainage pipe had failed over time, washed the underlying soil away,” said Darren Park, Ocala Public Works. “Heavy rains from Friday night put a lot of weight in the pipe, which caused the pipe to collapse.”

A sink hole, roughly the same size, opened up nearby just a few years ago.

Ocala’s Public Works department said the problem is old pipes.

“Over time, things will wear and fail. They have a service life. Some have more than others,” Park said. “My guess is they’ll be looking to make some changes over the next few years.”

Park predicts that the city will continue to see sinkholes as Florida receives heavy rainfall after a long dry period.

“It’s been a very dry year so far,” he said. “When you get those heavy rains, sinkholes are common, particularly in retention areas. We’ve been dealing with this all week long.”

Construction to fix the hole is expected to finish in the middle of June.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox