One year since sinkhole swallows townhomes in Kansas City neighborhood

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's been about a year since a giant sinkhole began swallowing townhomes in a Kansas City neighborhood called Falcon Falls.

"It started happening pretty quick, and they evacuated people," said Don Rhone, who has lived there about two years now.

Rhone actually spoke to FOX 4 last year as the sinkhole began swallowing his neighbors’ homes.

"Watching brand new homes getting torn down," Rhone said, and he remembers it very vividly. "Watching them sink, and wondering exactly where it was going to end,”

Luckily the city began fixing the problem before the sinkhole spread.

The two structures that had already fallen up to six feet from where they used to originally be, and there was a property next door that in the soil you could see it moving and starting to take away as well," said Ray Herzog, a code enforcement supervisor for the city of Kansas City Missouri.

He says he met with the Falcon Falls property manager to access situation.

"It was just loose soil clay base, which is very predominant in this area. It's not very stable, and you can't build a lot of heavy things on it," Herzog said.

Herzog says all the nearby townhomes were occupied but the city deemed many of them uninhabitable. The tenants were evicted for their own safety.

"I think there were some disgruntled people, having to move and things like that," said Rhone.

Herzog says Falcon Falls hired a contractor to make the soil firmer and give it more weight bearing potential.

"There's quite a bit of a slope towards the creek that was about 50 to 100 feet below," said Herzog. "What they did was they scooped all that out and put in really huge boulders and rocks. It took enough pressure off that it didn't fall in or drop down like the other two properties had."

Herzog believes certain steps weren't taken in the first place to avoid this type of problem.

"Probably, when they originally built the structures they were at fault for not shoring up the, like I said, what they ended up doing, putting the rock in and then excavating it then sloping it so that it was secure enough to be able to hold the weight of all the development with all the water lines, sewer lines, and of course the town homes themselves," said Herzog.

Herzog says he's back out to Falcon Falls with an inspector, and the case is now closed and the area is no longer considered dangerous. He says the City Planning and Development will most likely take extra steps in the future to ensure everything was done correctly to avoid this from happening again.

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