Construction to repair the sinkhole off of U.S. 74 is under way, according to Wadesboro Police Chief Janie Schutz. A backhoe has opened the hole up further so that the water flow freely, hopefully keeping the hole from degrading even more, Schutz said. She believes that the hole will be repaired within four weeks.
Joe Mendola, a representative for property owner Claude Smith, is hopeful that repairs will be completed sooner. “We really anticipate everything being completed in no more than about three weeks, if everything goes right and the weather cooperates,” he said. “If everything goes right, it could be as little as two weeks.”
The sinkhole appeared after heavy storms rolled through the area July 28. Originally, the hole was about 20 feet deep, but expanded after more rain hit the area Aug. 10.
Currently, the focus is on fixing the hole and maintaining safety. Schutz said her department has worked to keep people away from the hole due to safety and trespassing concerns. Schutz said there are a few other potential issues. “There’s a gas line to be concerned about, [as well as] the traffic light wires,” she said. These wires control the timers for the traffic lights at that location on U.S. 74 East-West, as well as the shopping center across the road, according to Schutz.
The Department of Transportation is protecting those and the road itself, she said. “They’re a smart group of people,” Schutz said. “This won’t be the first time they’ve had to deal with it. It’s just a concern that has to be dealt with.”
Another concern is for the affected businesses as employees resume business. “The water has been shut off, which will make it hard for the businesses to clean once they go back in,” she said.
She does believe that there shouldn’t be any concern for similar sinkholes, however, as the problem was likely caused by a flooded pipe. “The pipe was never big enough to handle the flow, then got clogged with leaves, branches, etc.,” she said. “It flooded as high as the road.”
Schutz said that everyone involved has been helpful. “The level of cooperation locally has been as good as it can be under strenuous circumstances,” she said. “The business owners have been phenomenal.”
Due to the good communication between the agencies, Schutz said she believes that they are well-equipped to handle other future problems. “Heaven forbid anything else should come up, but I believe we’d be able to handle it well if we keep the dialogue open,” she said.
The sinkhole continues to block access to the McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Harvest Ministries.