Couple displaced after sinkhole opens in basement

Source: Travis Moyers
Source: Travis Moyers
Source: Travis Moyers
Source: Travis Moyers

NORWOOD, OH (FOX19) - A two-family home in Norwood was evacuated Thursday morning due to a large sinkhole in the basement.

Police say a 25-foot wide hole has opened in the building, located in the 1900 block of Maple Avenue. It's unclear how deep it is.

A couple living on the first floor has been displaced. A resident who lived on the second floor recently moved out.

The problem began back in January when the sinkhole developed underneath the back steps of the home.

The Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) says the problem was caused by a crack in a 10 to 12 foot sewer pipe. MSD filled in the sinkhole, but early Thursday morning the sewer pipe collapsed, causing a massive sinkhole to develop in the basement.

One of the residents says he was awakened when the power went out. He went downstairs to check the breaker box and noticed five feet of water in the basement.

MSD Water Collection Superintendent Mike Pittinger says the entire property will have to excavated to repair the problem.

"The best alternative was to actually purchase the house and tear it down and complete the repair unobstructed from the building," Pittinger explained.

Pittinger says the solution is still going to cost more than $100,000, and for that they need county approval.

"Coincidently, Wednesday afternoon we got the official approval from the county commissioners that we had the approval to proceed with the repair," said Pittinger.

Justice Munoz and his wife have lived in the home for about a year, and he says they lost nearly everything that was stored in the basement.

"My bed went down that I just bought and all that sunk down about 35 feet in the hole," said Munoz.

Although the problem developed in January, Pittinger says it took months to sort out who was actually responsible.

"Some of it was due to the fact that there was uncertainty regarding the ownership of the pipe that actually has the defect. Some records indicate that it was a Norwood storm line, some records indicate it was an MSD sewer, so there was some effort to determine the actual ownership of the asset," said Pittinger.

Later revealed, the broken sewer pipe belongs to MSD. Pittinger says they're now making sure the problem doesn't get any worse.

"We're making some temporary redirection of the flow so that the local sanitary sewer on the street goes into the pipe that we know is in excellent condition," said Pittinger.

The property has been declared uninhabitable.

MSD is temporarily relocating Justice Munoz and his wife to a motel until they can find a permanent place to live. 

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.