Friday, May 9, 2008
The hole that swallowed East Texas
Over in Lansdale country, this massive portal to the netherworld has opened up in the middle of town. Being sardonic Texans, the locals call it the "Sinkhole de Mayo."
From Ralph Blumenthal in today's NY Times:
DAISETTA, Tex. — A huge and ravenous sinkhole that threatened to swallow this little East Texas oil town gobbled more crumbling earth Thursday but spared, at least for now, homes, the high school and the main road, Farm to Market 770.
“It’s unreal — the earth just wallered up,” said Lynn Wells, the mayor and fire chief, who monitored emergency efforts, speeding back and forth on his red Harley-Davidson.
Since the rim of an underground salt dome collapsed and the ground cracked and gave way abruptly Wednesday morning, the hole — already one of the largest on record, geologists here said — has grown to about 600 feet by 525 feet and 150 feet deep, said Cpl. Hugh Bishop of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
Two trucks have already tumbled into the saltwater muck, along with two grain tanks, utility poles and pine trees. A work shed of the DeLoach Oil and Gas Well Vacuum Service adjacent to the pit hung precariously over the rim, likely to topple in next.
“I’ve got some lakefront lots to sell here,” said a neighbor, Harold McCann, 82, as he sat on his property staring out at what had been, barely 24 hours ago, a wooded field.
The first warnings came Wednesday morning when employees of the DeLoach company saw cracks in the earth and the roadway started “warping down,” Corporal Bishop said.
Ricky and Dicky Johnson, brothers who live near Mr. McCann close to the pit, said they felt it coming on about 10 a.m. “The ground got to shaking,” said Dicky Johnson, over the din of news helicopters hovering over the site.
Quickly, the hole grew to 20 feet across. Then things started falling in.
Attention Texas fabulists: time to get in touch with your inner Jules Verne, and follow the brothers Johnson down into the hole?