Florida home spared by Irma swallowed by sinkhole

An Apopka home was evacuated Tuesday morning after a 25-foot-wide sinkhole opened up, swallowing at least half of the house, Orange County Fire Rescue officials said.

Firefighters responded at 8:22 a.m. to a call about the sinkhole after family members starting feeling the ground shake Monday night.

Ellen Miller, her husband, Garry Miller, and their two dogs were able to safely leave their home.

“I wasn’t sure what all the sounds were until I got up and saw the big, huge cracks in the walls, and they were just enormous,” Ellen Miller said. “It’s the only home I’ve ever had.” 

Miller, who moved into the home in 1969, said her kitchen, den and bathroom are destroyed. 

Officials said the sinkhole on West Kelly Park Road was 15 feet deep and growing.

Duke Energy and building department officials were also called to the scene.

“Kind of numb and trying to figure out if its going to stop growing,” said Elene Hale, Miller’s granddaughter. “Is my mom’s house next? At this point, it’s just wait and see.” 

Since the evacuation, the family has collected what they could from the home, filled with decades of memories.

Sinkhole destroys home in Apopka, Florida. pic.twitter.com/KMXv3LPF3J

— Clay LePard (@ClayLePard) September 19, 2017

“It’s probably generations of stuff,” said Miller’s daughter, Connie Hale. “It’s my grandfather’s flag from his casket, my dad’s father’s Bible, who’s been gone since I was an infant. It’s just stuff that’s not replaceable.” 

Miller’s home was spared during Hurricane Irma; she only lost power for about a day. She said she still hadn’t gotten her cable or internet back yet but knows she has a completely new set of problems now. ​

“I don’t have any idea what’s next,” Miller said. “I really don’t. There’s no rebuilding it. It’s gone. ” 

 

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Power outages spur questions about burying power lines in South Florida

Eight days after Hurricane Irma, Florida Power & Light hasn’t restored electrical power to all of their customers.

The state’s biggest electric company is responsible for about 3.6 million customers in both residential and commercial property. Some 204,000 were still without air conditioning in temperatures reaching the low 90s.

Power had not been restored for 11,240 in Miami-Dade and 1,990 in Broward. FPL spokeswoman Florencia Contesse said the outages were related to areas with fallen trees, fallen poles and rewiring that still needs to happen. 

Jessica Fernandez is among the thousands of residents who want FPL to bury power lines to protect them from the wind and to avoid vegetation-related outages. 

“It looks nicer,” Fernandez said.
 
Ted Kury is the director of energy studies at University of Florida’s public utility research center. He said the overhead-to-underground conversion is probably not the answer. 
 
Kury said burying the power lines would need to be done in a way that would prevent storm surge and flooding to damage them. It would also be expensive. 
 
“When FPL spends money on something, it’s recovered by the customers,” Kury said. 
 
 
Local 10 News’ Andrea Torres contributed to this report. 

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Florida cities practically non-existent on ‘Best Places to Live’ list

Is Florida really that bad?

Money magazine apparently thinks so as the publication’s list of “Best Places to Live in America” included only one Florida city.

One city out of 100!

Only St. Augustine at No. 62, which probably made the list because it was grandfathered in as the oldest city in the U.S., was good enough to make the Top 100.

Meanwhile, places like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Gainesville and Yeehaw Junction were left to wonder how it all went wrong.

The top city to live in the entire country?   That would be Fishers, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis!

Sure, Lone Tree, Colo. (No. 7) and Mustang, Okla. (No. 88) have cool names, but they’re in Colorado and Oklahoma, not Florida!

Ironically, the majority of cities on the list are from the North and Midwest, whose residents seemingly have no issue with escaping their towns to vacation in Paradise, A.K.A. Florida.

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Tolls to return to Florida highways, roads and bridges on Thursday

Tolls will return to most Florida highways, roads and bridges on Thursday, Sept. 21 after being suspended for almost two weeks due to Hurricane Irma.

Gov. Rick Scott suspended all tolls on Sept. 5 to help with evacuation efforts and relief activities.

While tolls across the state will be reinstated at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, tolls will remain suspended on the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike, south of the SR-874 to not deter recovery efforts in Monroe County.

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Here is how Hurricane Irma damaged public parks in South Florida

Six days after Hurricane Irma’s impact the national public parks in South Florida remained closed. 

Here is the latest damage report from the National Park Service:

Dry Tortugas National Park: A section of the moat wall collapsed and there were several trees down. The Garden Key Harbor light wasn’t working. 

Everglades National Park: There were workers using heavy equipment to clean the Gulf Coast area. The roads in East Everglades were still impassible due to downed power lines. Utilities were out at Shark Valley. Downed trees were blocking the Royal Palm trails. Hidden Lake and Long Pine Key access roads were blocked. Air Operations to assess Florida Bay for hazards were delayed due to mechanical issues.

Biscayne National Park: Staff was still working on removing debris and downed trees. There was a major leak in the water main and the headquarters and docks still needed to be repaired. A few Stiltsville structures were also damaged. Water transit is permitted.

Big Cypress National Preserve: The roofs of the maintenance building and the ranger station were damaged. There was flooding on several access roads Saturday, and there were also continued utility outages. Park rangers had yet to check on the campsites and trails.

 

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Hurricane Irma victims need your help

Hurricane Irma killed at least 33 people in the US and flooded major cities including Jacksonville, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina.

Millions are without power in the Southeast. Almost every home in the Florida Keys is damaged, according to FEMA.

Before causing devastation in the United States, Irma hit Cuba late Friday as a Category 5 hurricane.

More than 40 people were killed when Irma tore through several Caribbean islands, knocking down trees and leveling buildings.

There are several ways you can help.

Donate money: Find out more about charities aiding Hurricane Irma victims by clicking on the button below:

Donate blood: OneBlood, in Florida, is urging people living outside of Hurricane Irma’s path to visit their local blood center and donate blood as soon as possible. All blood types are needed, however, there is an urgent need for platelet donations as well as O negative blood.

Offer a place to stay: If you have housing available for evacuees, you can create a listing on Airbnb’s Irma page.

HomeAway is offering free or discounted rental homes for anyone displaced by the storm. All service fees are waived for those affected by the disaster and checking in between September 11 and October 15.

Give your time: The American Red Cross and United Way of Miami-Dade are calling for volunteers to help with relief efforts.

Connect with Impact Your World on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @CNNImpact.

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