Sinkhole threatens West Knoxville home

Sinkhole threatens West Knoxville home

Posted:
For three years Debra Petersen has been dealing with a sinkhole under her West Knoxville home. For three years Debra Petersen has been dealing with a sinkhole under her West Knoxville home.
"It's getting bigger and bigger, and the more rain that gets down there it's just going to increase in size," Petersen said, describing the six foot by six foot hole in her backyard. "It's getting bigger and bigger, and the more rain that gets down there it's just going to increase in size," Petersen said, describing the six foot by six foot hole in her backyard.
Dr. Hatcher explained that Tennessee has large quantities of limestone. Dr. Hatcher explained that Tennessee has large quantities of limestone.
According to a U.S. Geological Study, Tennessee is one of the top seven states most prone to sinkhole damage. According to a U.S. Geological Study, Tennessee is one of the top seven states most prone to sinkhole damage.
There is a crack in her foundation that now runs through the house and her foundation is sinking, causing cracks in her walls and ceiling. There is a crack in her foundation that now runs through the house and her foundation is sinking, causing cracks in her walls and ceiling.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - For three years Debra Petersen has been dealing with a sinkhole under her West Knoxville home.

"It's getting bigger and bigger, and the more rain that gets down there it's just going to increase in size," Petersen said, describing the six foot by six foot hole in her backyard.

The original sinkhole was underneath her bedroom. A contractor put concrete piers underneath her home to attempt to fix the problem.

"My house is basically on stilts," she said.

But that caused additional problems.

"I noticed one day they came to adjust some of the piers and I noticed my house cracked in half. It sound liked thunder," she said.

There is a crack in her foundation that now runs through the house and her foundation is sinking, causing cracks in her walls and ceiling.

Last years heavy rain opened a new hole just behind her home.

"Sinkholes are caused when ground water dissolves limestone," explained Dr. Robert D. Hatcher Jr., a distinguished scientist and structural geologist at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Hatcher explained that Tennessee has large quantities of limestone.

According to a U.S. Geological Study, Tennessee is one of the top seven states most prone to sinkhole damage.

Florida is one of those seven. With the recent sinkhole incident where a man died after it opened under his home, Petersen can't help but worry.

"They tell me I'm safe, that's what all the engineers say," said Petersen. "But I watch my grandkids and they can't be running around in the backyard."

And now she's at a loss for what to do.

"Now we're to the point where there's a cap on my insurance company, and the insurance company says they can only cover about 10 percent of what its going to cost," she explained. "It's going to cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to fix the backyard."

Tennessee and Florida are the only two states that require insurance companies to offer sinkhole insurance. But Petersen doesn't have it. She says her insurance company is working with her to try to come up with a solution but she feels stuck.

"Its just going to get bigger and I don't have the money to fix the back yard."

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