Perhaps one of your greatest fears is that a natural disaster is going to happen. You can spend all night worrying about something crazy happening to your home! Thankfully, these disasters are usually very rare, and if something happens most people end up okay. One couple got the surprise of a lifetime when a rare natural occurrence happened right outside of their home in Australia.
Most people think that Australia houses the worst of the worst when it comes to poisonous animals, crazy weather, and large bugs. These people may be over exaggerating, but this couple found out quickly that their Australian home had a scary surprise! It wasn’t a large bug or animal but instead they found themselves with a natural pool in their backyard. Don’t get too excited, this pool wasn’t as relaxing as one might think.
Click ‘Start Slideshow’ to read about the scary natural disaster that happened right in the McKay backyard!
A Quiet Neighborhood
Lynn and Ray McKay lived in a suburb of one of the largest areas in Australia. They were located in Queensland, Australia. Their suburb was named Basin Pocket, and they were soon about to figure out why it was called that. This couple had lived in this area for years, and nothing crazy ever happened to them.
Their Australian lifestyle was nothing but ordinary, and they were not prepared to see such a crazy event happen to them. Forget about the flying spiders and large snakes that Australia is known for, these folks had never seen any of that! They were a bit older, so they never expected that they would want a pool in their backyard. Little did they know they were going to get it whether they wanted it or not.
This wasn’t expected at all. Find out how they discovered their natural disaster by clicking ‘Next.’
Looking Out the Window
It was an ordinary morning for the McKay couple. They didn’t think they would look outside their window to find a backyard pool. However, this pool was not a welcome concrete bottom beautiful place to swim. This pool was actually a natural disaster that could have killed them! When Lynn looked outside the window, she was shocked.
She quickly called over Ray to come and look at whatever this could be in their backyard. When they went outside, they were scared to get too close to it. They thought that it must be what is called a sinkhole. Never seeing one in person, they didn’t know that it could get so big overnight.
You’ll never believe what else happened to this couple. Click ‘Next’ to read about the first problem they had!
Not the First Disaster
You might think that a rare occurrence like a sinkhole would be enough for one person’s lifetime, but the McKays were no strangers to natural disasters. Just a few years prior in 2011, Ray and Lynn lost everything. There in Queensland there was a huge flood, and their house was completely destroyed.
While they had home insurance, it didn’t cover very much of the damage. They were left to pick up the pieces of their broken life. Thankfully, they had recovered over the past few years. However, this didn’t make this sinkhole any more welcome. Could you imagine if their home was built just a few yards back? The McKays could have been swallowed up whole, so they were actually pretty lucky.
Where did this sinkhole come from? Find out how quickly it happened by clicking ‘Next.’ It’s crazy!
Their large sinkhole had appeared overnight, and the McKays didn’t know who you were supposed to call for situations like this. After debating who to talk to, they decided it was best to talk to the local authorities. A man came out to inspect the property, but he soon realized he was way over his head. There was backup called and soon the McKay backyard was swimming with professionals who were shocked to see a sinkhole.
Measuring at over 15 meters in diameter, this sinkhole was large enough to eat up almost half of their backyard. No one knew why this sinkhole had appeared so drastically, but they were determined to find it out.
Thankfully, Ray and Lynn didn’t have to pay a penny for it. Find out why that is by clicking ‘Next.’
A Government Issue
With most natural disasters, the people who live in the home are responsible. When their home had flooded back in 2011, the McKays had to shell out all the money to replace their belongings. No one helped them, and it was a traumatic experience. However, that was not the case with this issue.
Because most homes have an inspection before being sold, the government was responsible for this sinkhole. The ground should have been inspected further and decided that it wasn’t stable enough to build on. That obviously didn’t happen, so the McKays were not at fault here. This was a big relief to the couple because they were retired and living off of a fixed income. Knowing that they wouldn’t have to pay for the damage done to their backyard and home helped them immensely.
You’ll never guess how long it took to find an answer. Click ‘Next’ to see why no one understood!
No Answer Found
Things were starting to get dire, and the McKays began to worry for their safety. The sinkhole was already very big, but as time went on it was getting bigger. This really worried the local authorities, and they were worried that the McKay home was going to be swallowed up by the ground.
As they continued to measure it, they continued to become increasingly worried. Nothing was stopping the sinkhole. Since they weren’t the only ones in the neighborhood, the local authorities were worried that this could get even worse. Would more homes be swallowed up by this giant sinkhole? It was a real concern that they had to entertain.
Where did Ray and Lynn stay when this was happening? Find out where they were put by clicking ‘Next.’
Put Up in a Hotel
Lynn and Ray were treated very well by their local government. The mayor, Paul Pisasale, took the couple out for breakfast and told them that he would pay for their hotel out of his own pocket if it came down to it. It simply wasn’t safe for Lynn and Ray to stay in their home until this problem was figured out completely.
Thankfully, Lynn and Ray were put up in a hotel that they really enjoyed. They even joked about it being an excuse for a small vacation! It was good that they were having such a good attitude about it, but they were truly hoping that they could get this figured out so they wouldn’t lose their home. They’d been living there since 1991, and they didn’t want to say goodbye to the home just yet.
Could their street name tell experts what happened? Click ‘Next’ to find out how it contributed to the solution!
The experts who were examining the sinkhole were really trying hard to figure out what was causing this sinkhole. They don’t just appear out of nowhere, so there had to be something underneath the ground that could be causing it. When one of the workers was driving down and saw the name of their street, he got an idea.
Lynn and Ray lived on Coal Street, and they knew when they bought the home that there used to be a mining company who worked on the land back in the late 1800s. However, the coal miners all recorded where each mining shaft was, so it shouldn’t have created a problem. The worker knew this, but he thought maybe someone forgot to record part of a mine.
Why was this mine abandoned and what happened? Click ‘Next’ to find out how this all went down.
An Abandoned Mine
They all started to dig into the old records of the mining company and found that the mine was very close. However, there didn’t appear to be any mining done in the McKay backyard. A bit more digging revealed that there actually was a mining area in the backyard where the sinkhole was.
However, no one knew why this problem occurred. Why didn’t the miners record the mine that was underneath the backyard? All common knowledge said that the mine wasn’t anywhere near the houses where the McKays lived, but then they found that there really were mining shafts abandoned underneath. This was obviously a serious problem, and the mayor vowed to check every mining shaft and make sure that there were no more underneath the homes of this neighborhood.
It isn’t every day a situation like this happens. Find out why the sinkhole formed by clicking ‘Next.’
The Collapse of Old Shafts
What would happen with old mining grounds is that they would build these shafts to get through. These were made out of wood, and it allowed the miners to get underneath the ground without it collapsing on top of them. It worked very well, but wood has a tendency to rot.
While the mining shafts worked while the miners were down there, the wood eventually rots and the ground collapses. This is why mines often fill up their old shafts with dirt so that the ground doesn’t collapse and hurt people. However, this shaft wasn’t ever marked by the miners, so it was never filled up. When the wood rotted away, the dirt on top of the shaft collapsed into the old mine, which formed the sinkhole.
Why wasn’t there record of this mine shaft? Click ‘Next’ to read about how there may have been a mistake.
No Coal Found
The reason that this mining shaft was never recorded was because the miners didn’t find coal down there. While this is not a valid reason to not record where you have made mining shafts, the miners must have forgotten all about this spot. Since it wasn’t profitable for them, they probably didn’t spend much time down there.
The experts finally knew what had caused the sinkhole, but they were worried that this could happen to others. They all scoured the old mining maps to make sure this was the last shaft that was not filled. After they confirmed this, they made a plan to make sure that this sinkhole would never create a problem for the McKays again.
Click ‘Next’ to see how they started to fix the sinkhole. There was so much that needed to be done!
Draining the Water
The first step in repairing the sinkhole was draining the water that had collected there. Since the ground was fairly wet, the collapse caused a bunch of old water runoff to be stored in this convenient little pool. However, the water created an issue because they couldn’t see what was down below.
The sinkhole was over 30 feet deep at this point, so you can imagine the amount of water that had to be drained. There were professional machines brought in that would suck up the water and release it in a safe way. Once the water was out, they were able to see much more of what was happening.
Where’d they go from here? Click ‘Next’ to see what the next steps were to ensuring this didn’t happen again.
Deciding What to Do
Without the water, the experts’ suspicions were confirmed. The sinkhole was filled with a bunch of the collapsed mud and dirt, but they could also see the remnants of the mine. There was old wood that had rotted away, and they finally knew that this was truly what caused the sinkhole.
Now that they knew about the abandoned mine, they had to figure out how to fill it so it wouldn’t happen again. While the miners had originally filled this shaft with bits of dirt and timber, it clearly didn’t work well enough to make it not collapse. The mining department now had to do better to ensure the safety of the McKays and the other families in the neighborhood.
There was finally a solid plan. Click ‘Next’ to figure out just what they decided to do to fix everything.
Filling with Dirt
To fix the problem, the local government flew in a bunch of different experts from around Australia. They all decided the best course of action would be to fill the sinkhole with as much dirt as possible to really cement it from ever happening again.
The dirt they used was brought in. It was not the grainy dirt that many of us find in our backyards. This dirt was compact and heavy duty so that it could survive through the rain. It took over a ton of dirt to fill up this sinkhole. They had to make sure there was enough dirt that it became packed and would really keep the old mine from ever collapsing again.
You won’t believe what happens next. Click ‘Next’ to see how they would fix the sinkhole for good!
The mine shaft was originally thought to be 120 meters deep, so they had to fill up a lot of area. While they didn’t fill up the whole mine shaft, the experts were confident that the amount of dirt they put in the sinkhole would stop it from ever collapsing again.
However, this wasn’t entirely true. Six months after the sinkhole was filled, the couple noticed that their ground was sinking again. They had been getting a lot of rain, and the original hole was sunken in by a few inches. While it wasn’t enough to cause a lot of concern, Ray and Lynn did have some people out to come look at the ground again to ensure that the sinking wouldn’t turn into a full on sinkhole once again.
What did Ray desperately want to keep from the sinkhole? Find out what was sentimental by clicking ‘Next.’
Saving Some Wood
Ray and Lynn were probably some of the easiest people to work with. Everything was paid for because the mining department in Queensland didn’t do their job. There had actually been reports from close cities about other sinkholes from mines that hadn’t been filled. The mining department had gotten in a lot of trouble back in the 1980s, but they were making steps to become better.
Since everything was paid for, Ray and Lynn were happy that they didn’t need to shell out any money. Most people would be frustrated because there was a lot of heavy machinery that had to come through their yard. In fact, their whole backyard was pretty much destroyed in the process. While they were happy that they were alive, destroying their backyard wasn’t too fun. However, the local government was going to make it right. The only thing that Ray wanted from the whole ordeal was a piece of the wood from the old mining shaft. He wanted to create a sign that would show where the sinkhole happened, but he wanted it done with a piece of old wood. The workers happily obliged, and Ray made his sign to put into the ground.
Ray and Lynn were about to get a special surprise. Click ‘Next’ to see what would happen to their yard!
Ray’s sign couldn’t go into a backyard that was destroyed. The McKays actually made out pretty well because they had a team of professionals that redid their landscape for them. The backyard ended up looking gorgeous, and this was just another thing that was completely paid for.
Their new landscape was done up with pretty flowers and a new painted retaining wall for their garden. It was much better than it had been before the sinkhole, so the retired couple was very happy. They even enjoyed their few minutes of fame because they got to be on TV and were interviewed by news stations across the country. While lots of people could pick out the negative in a situation like this one, Ray and Lynn decided to only focus on the positive. This helped the whole process go much smoother!
Was everything good as new? Find out how the sinkhole actually improved other situations by clicking ‘Next.’ It is amazing!
Hope for the Future
All in all, this whole experience was quite the interesting thing that the McKays had to go through. They wouldn’t want to do it again, but life returned to normal pretty quickly. From start to finish, the whole ordeal only took seven days. Ray and Lynn got to kick back in a hotel while the many experts and workers worked to figure out how to help save the McKay house.
It wasn’t easy, but it did bring out a lot of progress. Their sinkhole brought attention to the many problems with the mining department in the area of Queensland, and it let the new workers experience the work that would be what they needed to do for the next few years. While the land in Queensland isn’t too stable because of the old mines, the mining department is ready to double check all the records mining companies kept to ensure that a situation like this doesn’t happen again. It could have been much worse, so everyone was thankful that no one got hurt.