Sinkholes blamed on flooding get worse in Caruthersville, Mo

Updated: Dec. 5, 2019 at 10:49 PM CST
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CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) - The water is long gone from the historic flood of 2019, but the sinkholes it created in Caruthersville, Missouri are only getting worse.

While frustrations and fears are at an all time high for city leaders and homeowners there is a glimmer of hope of the horizon.

As time passes Melvin Pipkins’ said the sinkholes around town are growing in size and number.

“It’s like a rollercoaster," Pipkins said. “I’ve been noticing the little man hole cover on Grand Avenue has been sinking down, but this morning it was gone. I looked and the man hole cover is now 8 to 10 feet down into the ground.”

Pipkins said problems for homeowners don’t stop at the curb.

He said he has several smaller sinkholes in his backyard, and this year noticed his new kitchen floor is starting to come apart at the seams and feel ‘soft’.

“It’s terrible. I’ve bought floor joints to replace what might be busted, but I’m afraid of what I’m going to find when I cut open the floor,” Pipkins said. "Right now I’m in the middle of leaving or staying. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I really don’t want to leave this town, I love it, but a man has to do what he has to do. I can’t let my house fall in underneath me.”

Caruthersville Mayor Sue Grantham said staff with FEMA are back in town this week to finish documenting the sinkholes and other flood damage.

“It is a step and everybody should be thankful they’re here," Grantham said. “They’re talking with us, and they are going to help us.”

Grantham said federal agencies will pay for a majority of estimated $4.5 million needed to repair the flood damage.

“Now that they’re starting to see it, they are willing to start funneling money to us as we fix things," Grantham said. “FEMA will give us 75 percent of some of the monies, and then SEMA will give us 15 percent. We are going to be out 10 percent but we are going to get help with that.”

Pipkins is glad things are moving in the right direction but worries about the unknown.

“We’re pretty much staying on edge a lot," Pipkin said. "We’re afraid with all the recent earthquakes that has been hitting around the Heartland. If one was to be centered here in Caruthersville I think we would be in a lot of trouble.”

Once FEMA staff gives Caruthersville the green light, crews will start temporarily fixing sinkholes in the coming weeks, and then slowly move on to more permanent repairs.

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