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Sinkholes threaten U.S. 41

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:31 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

The water was deep and the ground level was well below the road, so Troy Fielder's front yard — drenched by the torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby — wasn't going to dry out anytime soon.

Once the ground under the flood had collapsed, the trapped rainwater had a new place to go.

Nowadays, there is mosquito-infested water in three gigantic holes in Fielder's 1-acre property at 4370 Broad St., a short distance north of Powell Road.

An oak tree was toppled by one sinkhole. Water almost fills the other two. The hole closest to U.S. 41 is about 20 paces from the highway.

Kristen Carson, a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Transportation said the agency is aware the sinkholes are creeping closer to the busy road.

FDOT officials will take a closer look at them today or Thursday, she said.

Fielder is thought to have received a piece of the $1.4 million worth of federal assistance granted to Hernando County residents since the tropical storm ravaged the region. An employee at the Masaryktown-area store that collects donations on behalf of Fielder said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has stepped in to help him.

A FEMA spokeswoman couldn't confirm that because of confidentiality laws, but as of Tuesday, nearly 1,500 residents have contacted the agency seeking assistance or have applied for relief, she said.

Fielder, who vacated his flood-damaged home, was expected to stay with relatives. His son-in-law said eight weeks ago Fielder was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Tropical Storm Debby flooded the region the week of June 24. The storm dumped up to a foot of rain and hung around a couple more days, which caused lakes and rivers to rise and previously empty retention ponds to fill.

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