Harrison, AR sinkhole
© James L. White/Harrison Daily
Harrison city workers on Wednesday began dumping large rocks into the huge sinkhole that began to encroach on a home in Harrison over the weekend.

The hole opened up after heavy rain Friday, April 21, in an area off Chelsea Circle.

The hole is in Will and Sherry Presley's back yard. After even heavier rain last weekend, the hole grew exponentially and began to near the Presleys' home.

They said drainage has been an issue in the area ever since they moved into the house 10 years ago.

Sherry said they have been asking for help from the city from about the time following the first rain after they moved in.

But she said they have been told that flooding that occurs during heavy rain is not the city's responsibility and that because a portion of that property is outside the city limits, none of it qualifies as city property.

Sherry also said in an email that if the city had taken action any time in the last 10 years, "we wouldn't have a gigantic hole in our yard and be out on the street [because] our home isn't safe to live in anymore....not to mention the fact that our property no longer holds any value due to this situation."

On Tuesday, the city requested a professional engineer from GTS, Inc. Geotechnical & Testing Services of Fayetteville inspect the sinkhole and offer advice about a remedy.

Andy McClarrinon with GTS examined the hole Tuesday afternoon, saying the hole needed to be stabilized to avoid more erosion and that bore holes should be drilled to determine the structure under and around the hole.

Harrison Public Works director Wade Phillips said they began hauling large rocks from a quarry in Hollister, Missouri, to fill the hole and stabilize the banks.

That quarry was the closest to Harrison that had rocks the right size for the project. He wasn't certain how much it would require, but 300 tons were available at the quarry at about $20 a ton.

Phillips said the ground around the hole had been dry for several days and they could begin work, but they first had to build a makeshift road to allow trucks to haul large rocks to the edge of the hole, where an excavator was being used Wednesday to drop rocks into the hole.

But he also said more rain in the afternoon could make the ground around the hole unstable and workers might have to put off the job. In addition, they would have to stop working if there was lightning in the area because the excavator was basically a lightning rod.

Two members of the Central Region Arkansas Grotto, an affiliate of the National Speleological Society, visited the sinkhole Tuesday afternoon. They declined to disclose their names.

One of the spelunkers tied ropes to trees above the sinkhole and lowered himself into the hole, then into another hole at the bottom.

When he emerged, he said the smaller hole went down about another 40 feet, but it didn't seem to undercut the house. He said there was a solid rock ceiling above the void and he felt safe under it.

He noted no visible signs of an underground stream unless it was further into the hole than he could go due to debris that had washed into the smaller hole.

Sherry asked the man if the hole would just open up again if it were simply fixed the same way it had been.

"That's a very good questions, probably for a hydrologist," he said.

Will said the forecast heavy rains for Wednesday left he and Sherry feeling "a little uneasy," so they were planning to pack up some thing and leave the house Tuesday night.