Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 19, 2013

Ferguson officials band together to deal with sinkhole problem

Fergsuon —  

It takes a village — or a local city mayor, with help from a fire department and a railroad company — to fill in a sinkhole. 
Ferguson resident Melissa Upchurch was in for the shock of her life last week when the ground in her yard fell out beneath her. 
“In that split second I’m thinking ‘oh my gosh, am I ever going to stop falling?’” Upchurch said.
Upchurch had returned to her home, located on West Govers Lane near the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, at around 3:30 p.m. Thursday to see a strangely sunken-in area in her yard that hadn’t been there before.
Curious, she approached the area and pushed a toe into the ground. That’s when the soil gave way completely, sending her straight down into a newly-developed sinkhole. 
Upchurch said she landed on soft dirt, and she said the edge of the sinkhole came up to her chest. The depth of the hole was at first estimated to be five- to five-and-a-half feet. 
Luckily, Upchurch wasn’t hurt, save for some scrapes and bruises to her arms and knees. She said she had to gather some of the loose soil beneath her in order to get out, with some help.
“She (Upchurch) called me on her cell phone and said ‘I fell in a hole,’” said Phillip Nevels, who lives at the home as well. “I looked outside and I just saw part of her body.”
Upchurch said she could feel the dirt shifting beneath her, and she said it was frightening to feel the edges of the sinkhole nearly fall in as she struggled to climb out. As soon as she was free, she called 911. 
“I was not really sure what needed to happen then,” Upchurch said.
The Ferguson Volunteer Fire Department responded and, after just a few minutes, roped the area off  until something could be done. The sinkhole, while not very wide, is located near the railroad tracks and a road. An ever-widening sinkhole could lead to serious issues with the nearby infrastructure.

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