On April 27th a sinkhole opened in Black Hawk, South Dakota, right under the Hideaway Hills development causing a dozen homes to be evacuated. With families moved to safety, the exploration of the sinkhole began and WOW! What they found turned out to be much more than anyone expected.
A group called Paha Sapa Grotto, a subchapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS), volunteered their expertise for the exploration. NSS is known as the world leaders in caving science, exploration and conservation.
Nick Anderson, a member of the Paha Sapa Grotto group told Bored Panda, “When we heard about the sinkhole, we knew it was on a geological unit that could potentially have caves in it. We also knew that county emergency management wouldn’t have much experience in this area so we offered to help to determine the scope of the problem.”
And they were right. No one was prepared to find a gypsum mine that spans directly under at least a dozen homes. Anderson reported, “Upon entering, we immediately realized that it was an abandoned gypsum mine and not a cave. The room we entered was 15 feet tall and 60 feet wide. We got a quick look around and exited. We determined that the mine was over 2,000 feet across and over 150 feet wide. It went directly under at least 12 homes.”
After exploring more, Paha Sapa Grotto said they still couldn’t reach all corners of the mine due to safety issues. “The full extent of the mine is still unknown as passages are either collapsed in, flooded or too dangerous to enter.”
Local authorities were left reeling trying to figure out how this could have happened.
One commenter said, “Judging by the car, SOMEONE knew about that before the houses were built.
As for the residents, everyone is safe, but their homes are now officially worth nothing. The subdivision, including 119 homeowners, have decided to sue South Dakota, Meade county and developers of the subdivision for $35,000,000 in compensatory damages, $40,000,000 in exemplary damages and “such other relief as the court deems equitable.”
According to Bored Panda, the lawsuit will also include counts against title companies involved in sales of the homes, attorneys for previous owners and real estate agents who sold the homes.
The county planned on applying for a grant in order to pay for some of these fees, however, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the residents aren’t eligible due to “unresolved issues regarding whether this is a natural event, the likelihood of negligence, and the duplication of federal benefits.”