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In one week, 12 sinkholes open in FL neighborhood

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Posted at 12:37 AM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 22:35:22-04

OCALA, FL (WFTV/CNN) – With at least a dozen sinkholes forming in a Florida subdivision, eight families have been evacuated while city officials try to figure out how to fill in the holes and stop them from developing again.

Residents in the Ocala, FL, neighborhood Wynchase at Fore Ranch can’t do anything but watch, wait and hope after sinkholes started opening up near their homes last Wednesday.

Eight families have already been forced to evacuate, and others are left wondering if they’ll be next.

"We just have a bag ready in case they say, 'Yeah, you need to evacuate.' We can just grab it and get out,” resident Maren Pinder said.

The two most recent of the 12 sinkholes opened up just steps from Pinder's door.

"My husband was driving over it, and he told me, 'I felt the road was kind of soft right there.’ Then later that day, that's when the sinkhole opened up. It's scary to think you can be driving in your own neighborhood and a sinkhole open up under your car,” she said.

Geotechnical engineers worked all day Monday to secure and test the holes, which have been forming around the neighborhood’s retention pond.

Manoj Chopra, a geotechnical engineering professor at the University of Central Florida, says the sinkholes could be connecting directly to the aquifer underneath, meaning one big sinkhole could be slowly developing.

Officials say the area is prone to sinkholes. The homeowners’ association paid thousands of dollars to fill sinkholes back in 2012.

The new holes can’t be filled until the ground has settled, and this time, officials say it could cost even more.

"They just keep coming. Are we really safe? We don't know. It's really scary,” Pinder said.

Officials say a report with suggested solutions should be available by the end of this week.

Sinkholes form when ground water circulates through and dissolves certain types of soft rock. As the rocks dissolve, caverns form and eventually, there is not enough strength to support the land above, triggering a sinkhole.

A sudden collapse can vary in size from a few feet to hundreds of acres and can range from 1- to 100-feet deep.

The US Geological Survey says states where the most damage from sinkholes usually happens are Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Copyright 2018 WFTV via CNN. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.