'We're in a tough spot': ground collapse forces couple from home

The couple and their neighbors have been told to leave their homes due to the danger from the...
The couple and their neighbors have been told to leave their homes due to the danger from the sinkhole. (Source: NBC12)
Published: Jun. 7, 2018 at 10:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2018 at 10:46 AM EDT
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The sinkhole created a nearly 15-foot drop in the couple's backyard. (Source: NBC12)
The sinkhole created a nearly 15-foot drop in the couple's backyard. (Source: NBC12)

KING WILLIAM, VA (WWBT) - A King William couple and their next door neighbors have been told to leave their homes, because the ground near the foundation is collapsing.

Lyndell Hamilton says it happened overnight. When heavy rains moved through the area Saturday, she and her husband woke up to a nearly 15-foot deep drop in their backyard.

"It's getting closer to the house. Every day, something falls off. We were told it's not safe to live here," said Hamilton.

The couple bought the home three years ago. It was built in 2007, and they had already deposited to add a fence and build a larger deck when they discovered a landslide behind their home.

The fire chief and building inspector told the couple and their next door neighbors that it is not safe for them to stay in their homes. Now, the Hamilton's are struggling with their insurance company to determine what's next.

"They've been telling us it's not going to be covered and there's not a policy in Virginia that would even cover a sinkhole or potential sinkhole," explained Hamilton. "It's caused by storm damage, so maybe somehow they can cover something so we're not at a total loss of our first home."

NBC12 spoke with Mike Fisher, a local State Farm agent, who says cases like this can be complicated. Fisher says ground moving, settling, sinking, foundation changes are not always covered by homeowner's insurance. He says in these situations, the best thing to do is contact an engineer to determine what can be done to slow down the progression of the landslide or sinkhole.

The Hamilton's say they have reached out to almost every resource they can think of. They have had an engineer look at their property and say next, a geologist will come to look at the damage.

In the meantime, they are living in a hotel, thanks to the Red Cross stepping in to help them. Family members say they can stay with them during this time as well.

"I can't imagine what more rain will do, honestly," said Hamilton. " I wouldn't be surprised if I come back from the weekend and the house is in the hole."

Hamilton says there is only about a 10-foot distance between the nearly 15-foot drop and their house at this point. Her husband was looking at the damage this week, and she says he got too close to the edge, when part of the ground under his feet started crumbling. She says he slipped, but held on the wall, and she helped him back up to higher ground.

"It's too close for comfort at this point," she said. "[We're in] a tough, tough spot."

The situation has caused the water and sewer to get shut off. It could cost them up to $100,000 to fix the issue themselves. They are worried they may not be able to move back in to their home.

The couple is looking for any recommendations to help them find a solution. The King William Fire Chief, Andy Aigner  wrote in a statement:

The Office of Fire and EMS has been in contact with Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to try to investigate viable options that will assist the homeowners with mitigation.

We understand the frustrations and concerns of the homeowners that are affected.  We will continue to work with and facilitate discussion between VDEM and the homeowners to try and obtain viable options for those affected.

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