Collapse reveals massive cave under homes in Austin

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Cave found above Austin neighborhood larger than engineers believed (KTRK)

Residents in one Austin neighborhood are on uncertain ground after a giant hole suddenly appears near their homes.

The ceiling of an unknown cave collapsed feet away from their homes, setting off questions about whether they should move to safer ground.

The Cambria cavern has a spectacular view-and is far larger than anybody could have guessed.

Stretching at an impressive 200 feet, the cave has apparently been underneath the neighborhood all along, KXAN-TV reports.

Utility workers said the absence of a surface opening made it hard to detect, but then a 22-foot-deep hole opened up after part of the cave ceiling collapsed.

The collapse broke a water line, leaving 10 homes in the Woods of Brushy Creek subdivision without access to water for showers and cooking.

Now authorities are working to figure out if any nearby homes are in danger should the ceiling collapse further.

Structual engineers are working with hydrogeologists to take measurements, but neighbors say the slow trickle of information has them concerned.

"I was under the impression it would be today and I've been putting off other plans in my life to be here, because I don't want to miss when they come knocking on the door with some information," said neighbor Michelle Mitchell, whose home is above the cave.

The county said the utility lines that were cut during the collapse were installed 30 years ago. That seems to have played a role in the weakening of the cave ceiling.

Public affairs manager Connie Odom says engineers are working as quickly as possible.

"It was just that area that appears to be affected but that's all that we know, so we're telling the homeowners they really need to make their own individual decisions right now," Odom said.

Decisions on whether to stay or go.

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