Continued rainfall delays sinkhole solution

Continued+rainfall+delays+sinkhole+solution

Carly Phares, Head Editor

As middle schoolers run out to play soccer in their makeshift field, they are stunned by a large hole in the ground. Teachers warn them to step back from the unidentified hole before someone is swallowed by what looks like a meteor strike.

Identified as a sinkhole on Friday, February 21, the nearly 15-foot-deep hole continues to grow as the rain prolongs indefinitely. 

The sinkhole began at a mere 3 feet in diameter, but within a few days, it expanded to about 5 feet in diameter and 10 to 15 feet deep. The sidewalk beside the hole is not a danger to walk on, but students and teachers are advised to stay away from the caution tape surrounding it.

Facility technicians Deni Davidson and Jimmy Bettis have placed a sheet of plywood on the hole to decrease the dangers of falling in, but there is not much else anyone can do until the rain dies down and the ground dries up. 

It would not be safe for contractors to bring in heavy machinery with the ground being wet and soft

This is the first sinkhole to appear on school property, and according to Davidson, it is unlikely for one to occur again.

“To look at [the meditation garden] from a level angle, I am sure you will see that it kind of has a belly in the middle… from the ground settling,” said Davidson. “But to have a sinkhole, I think it’s probably more of an anomaly.”

Geier Hall was built on an incline, and when building with this land structure, “water is your greatest enemy,” Davidson continued.

During the construction phase, huge drain pipes were installed to prevent erosion. This is in compliance with the type of construction that they were doing.

To recover the land later used to make the Meditation Garden, they had to backfill. This process involves placing dirt back in the area where they put the drain pipes to return it to a reasonable height. The problem now is that they did not backfill with enough gravel and stone underneath the dirt. This created a weak structure littered with air holes.

Davidson speculates that since there was nothing there to hold the added weight caused by the recent torrential rainfall, the saturation of the water built up and gave in, creating a sinkhole.

“Based on what I know, you’re going to have to fill it with something that’s not going to get washed away,” explained Davidson. “Starting with stones because once they are wedged in they are unlikely to move.”