Powell Sinkhole

By Bree Belyea

On Tuesday, February 29, 2019 a sinkhole opened in Knoxville. The sinkhole on Greenwell Rd. in Powell is about 25 feet wide and 65 feet deep, and still growing. A county engineer told 10News that a woman spotted it around noon. At that time, it was about 5 feet wide. Half of the roadway is gone, and concrete is still crumbling away. Engineers were working Tuesday afternoon to drill test holes in each quadrant of the sinkhole to determine the depth of the bedrock there, Jim Snowden said. "That’s the firm foundation that we want to get to to bring it back up and make sure it’s stable." Before they began drilling, workers had to find all of the underground utilities in the area. A Hallsdale-Powell Utility District water tank is right next to the hole, as is a 12-inch line that feeds into it, Snowden said. A rescue horse named Peanut grunted and groaned as he kicked at the earth that imprisoned him while being on duty. Clumps of dirt rained on his exposed back as the claw of an excavator came down again and again, just inches from his body. For more than two hours Wednesday night, the Knoxville Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad and excavator operator Andy Cox worked methodically to free Peanut, who became trapped after a sinkhole swallowed him. Peanut, eventually suffocated while being trapped in the sinkhole. A rescue squad member got shovels trying to get Peanut out but it was too late. Peanut the horse died. A county official says repairing the road could cost more than 1000k. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports crews on Wednesday were attempting to plug the sinkhole with concrete, but then more rain hit the area. The county director of public works and engineering, Jim Snowden, says the road may be reopened by next week. On Thursday, crews had filled it in with concrete almost entirely, but weren't sure if it would sink down. According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey), sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is made up of limestone, which is the case for much of East Tennessee. Tennessee is one of the top states in the country for sinkholes. If the rain keeps coming then it will keep washing out the hole that they have already done. Construction workers are working day and night to fill the sinkhole up to get the road up and opened to the public again.

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