West Virginia Sinkhole Threatens to Swallow City’s Police Department

  • A sinkhole in West Virginia opened up last year, but recent heavy rain made it expand significantly.
  • The sinkhole appeared next to a small city’s police department, and it now threatens the building. 
  • State workers are set to install a temporary bridge at the site while they make a permanent repair.

A small sinkhole that appeared in a West Virginia parking lot last year has grown so large that it now threatens to devour a small city’s police department. 

The sinkhole first appeared next to the local police station in Hinton, a city in southern West Virginia with a population of just over 2,200, in June 2021, according to local news outlet WVNS.

At first, the sinkhole — caused by a failing drain underneath the road — was just six feet wide and 30 feet deep, local news station WSAZ reported. 

Officials tried fixing the problem, but heavy rains from the recent Hurricane Nicole made the hole grow significantly. Now a section of the police department’s building has been left teetering on the edge.

“The rain we received over the weekend enlarged the hole drastically,” State Senator Stephen Baldwin said in a November 14 Facebook post. “This is a very serious matter and is being treated as such by DOH, the city, and the school system. School buses travel this road each day carrying our most precious resource. We must do everything possible to protect their safety.” 

In a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Transportation published photos of the sinkhole and said the state’s Division of Highways is set to install a temporary bridge at the site of the sinkhole within the next few days, while a permanent repair takes place. 

A sinkhole in Hinton, West Virginia.

A sinkhole in Hinton, West Virginia.

West Virginia Department of Transportation

“It will be a fast process — our guys will work as long as they have to each day,” said Joe Pack, a deputy state highway engineer, in a press conference included in the video. “It is our goal to make this as quick and painless as possible, so that everyone can then drive across a structure they feel is safe and they have no more concerns or worries.”

In a separate Facebook post on Wednesday, Baldwin said the long-term solution will cost around $5 million and will be paid for by the state. 

Sinkholes can form in a variety of ways. In this case, water entered the ground without anywhere to drain, collecting and chipping away at the rock and dirt, eventually causing the foundation above to collapse. 

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