The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 30, 2013

Sinkhole: Old problem returns

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Monday night’s heavy rains resurrected an old problem on the grounds of Bethel Baptist Church.

A sinkhole about 21 feet long, 10 feet wide and 6 feet deep gaped open Tuesday, extending well into the church parking lot. It is near the area where two sinkholes  previously opened up, going as far back as October.

For pastor Wesley Byrd, the sinkholes are like a nightmare that keeps coming back for another round.

The sinkhole ordeal began in October after a large OG&E Electric Services transmission pole between the church parking lot and the east edge of Cleveland was struck by lightning and had to be replaced. OG&E workers cut through a buried AT&T transmission cable while replacing the pole. AT&T came to the scene to dig a trench to replace the damaged cable, and that night’s rain caused the first sinkhole to appear.

A second sinkhole appeared later.

The city found structural damage to the storm sewer running through the area, leading to the appearance of the sinkholes. City commissioners on July 2 approved a bid from S.L. Madison Construction, of Crescent, to repair the storm sewer.

It didn’t happen soon enough: Heavy rain fell on Enid Monday night.

“We got between 4 and 5 inches of rain, based on rain totals on my Facebook pages,” said Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management.

Steve Kime, public relations director for the city of Enid, said before a work order could be issued to Madison Construction, the company had to provide documentation of bonds and insurance.

“They have provided those documents,” Kime said. “It’s up to Mayor (Bill) Shewey to sign the contract, and then the work order will be issued.”

Kime said as soon as the mayor signs the work order, the city engineering department will give the nod to Madison Construction.

Shewey said Tuesday he hadn’t been alerted that paperwork was awaiting his signature, but he would check on the status and sign the paperwork if it’s ready.

Steve Madison, owner of Madison Construction, said he’s been waiting on the go-ahead from the city, and as soon as he gets it, his employees are ready to tackle the job. His best guess at this time is that it will take about 10 days to do the work, Madison said.

“By contract, I have 90 days to do that job,” Madison said.

Besides the size of the sinkhole, another thing that’s different this time is that Bethel Baptist Academy, the small school that operates at the church, is not in session.

“I’m glad we don’t have kids out there in school now, but there are a lot of kids who walk by here,” Byrd said.