Giant Texas sinkhole grows larger again in Daisetta, 15 years after it opened up

Rosie Nguyen Image
Monday, April 3, 2023
A comeback no one wanted: Daisetta sinkhole threatens anew
A community that thought it was rid of the worries involving the sinkhole next door is having to reignite the angst again after the latest worsening of the phenomena.

DAISETTA, Texas (KTRK) -- It's the comeback no one wanted. A sinkhole that made national headlines 15 years ago for threatening buildings and prompting an extended road closure in the small Liberty County town of Daisetta appears to be growing again.

The sinkhole is located a little north of Hull-Daisetta High School and west of FM 770 on the edge of the DeLoach Oil and Gas Waste Well. A view from SkyEye on Monday shows visible cracks in the earth. Some tanks, buildings, and other structures appear to be leaning and sliding into the water.

"We just never thought it would start again," Linda Hoover, who lives right next to the sinkhole, said. "When we bought our house a few years ago, we were under the understanding that it was stabilized."

"I was having a lot of trouble going to sleep last night because I didn't know if we were going to get swallowed up. My family told me it happened kind of fast before," Jordana Priessler, who lives near the sinkhole, said.

It's a scene that's unfortunately familiar to this town, which sits entirely on a salt dome. Back in 2008, what started out as a 20-foot hole in the ground grew overnight into a monstrous crater that was 900 feet wide and 260 feet deep.

It swallowed up oil tanks, barrels, tires, telephone poles, and several cars. The ground remained stable for the most part until Sunday around 6 p.m. when Mayor Eric Thaxton said a resident notified him that it was collapsing again.

"My neighbor came over (Sunday) and said he kept hearing popping sounds like a gunshot. We went to the backyard, and there were buildings falling in. It was like a movie. You can see cracks forming in the ground," resident Tim Priessler said.

Liberty County Assistant Fire Marshal Erskin Holcomb estimates the sinkhole has gained 150 feet in width and 150 feet in depth. He explains that not much can be done to prevent, repair, or mitigate sinkholes as it's an act of nature. But officials typically gauge the need for evacuations on the distance, direction, and speed of the sinkhole.

"Sinkholes are extremely unpredictable. It can take a week to move one foot, or it can crumble 20 feet overnight," he said.

The City of Daisetta issued a statement to ABC13 that reads in part, "City officials immediately contacted the offices of the Liberty County Judge, the Liberty County Fire Marshal, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and notified residents in the immediate area of the situation. City officials are closely monitoring the situation and will work with state and local authorities to provide updates to the community as the situation progresses."

Holcomb said the two metal tanks seen falling into the sinkhole had been confirmed to be empty, luckily. The property owner is reportedly working with an environmental company to decide what to do with five plastic tanks nearby, believed to be holding sodium silicate.

Even though no evacuations were ordered as of Monday evening, Hoover said her family is prepared to leave if needed.

"My worst fear is for it to overtake us at night. So that's the reason we haven't really been able to sleep. We have packed our bags just in case and parked our cars kind of funny. So we can get out of here in a hurry if we need to," Hoover said.

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