Work continues on giant sinkhole in Richmond

April 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Crews yanked a car out of a massive sinkhole in the East Bay Saturday and there may still be another one down there.

The removal of the car was just one bit of good news for Richmond residents as one lane of Via Verdi Road was reopened to traffic and nearby homes had their water turned back on.

However, the neighborhood is still not out of the woods yet.

Crews have a lot of work to do. They are still trying to find the cause of the sink hole. They are also trying to stabilize the dirt before Monday's rains and they are looking for a second car which is supposed to be somewhere down there.

According to an eye witness, Saturday's blue Mazda was one of two cars that fell into the sink hole Thursday night.

"We got whatever we could salvage out of there, clothes, some games, mats, just whatever was still intact in there," said Bryan Lentenbrink referring to his girlfriend's car.

The car was banged up but in one piece. As for the other car, there has been no sign of it.

"We know it's in there. Don't know how deep or how long or where it's at or anything. They're still digging," said the car's owner Martin Still-Nichols.

After five hours, the focus had to shift because there is too much other work to do. Crews still need to find the cause of the sink hole which is likely a break in the underground culvert.

"I would probably sum it up a needle in a hay stack due to all the dirt that's out there," Richmond Fire Department Battalion Chief Erick Newman told ABC7.

That is not the only challenge. Monday could bring more rain and the sink hole is not stable.

"There is some dirt that's packed up against the roadway here and that could start undermining because of it getting wet. So, that could cause a concern. Then, we'd be back to where we were a couple of days ago," Newman said.

It was only Friday that residents were walking uphill to their homes as Via Verdi was shut down. On Saturday, one lane was open and a new water main was in place. The original one is right in the middle of the sink hole, so water to residents was shut off until Saturday.

"We had to go Food Land to get water and water bottles," said resident Kavi Singh.

"I didn't get my water until 3:00 in the morning," said Roy Canoy.

A sense of normalcy has returned to his neighborhood, but residents worry that with the upcoming rain, it could be short lived.

"They should open another road like an alternative, a street to get out," said Arianela Montecinos. "What if something big happened? We'll be trapped."

Crews say what they really want to do is stabilize things. They will build a steel bridge on top of the road this weekend and put up more fencing inside the sink hole to help with erosion.


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