TODAY

TODAY   |  March 04, 2013

Crews tear down home destroyed by sinkhole

Demolition crews will finish tearing down the Florida home under which a sinkhole opened last week. One resident was tragically lost in the incident and homes nearby are being evacuated. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> demolition crews in florida are back at work clearing away debris from a sink hole that swallowed a 37-year-old man in his home. gabe gutierrez is there, covering the story. gabe, good morning.

>> savannah, good morning. demolition crews plan to finish tearing this home down later today. this, after an emotional day for the families who lived here. as her world crumbled, janelle wheeler is also torn apart.

>> over 40 years of memories just gone.

>> reporter: her home near tampa now deemed too unstable after a sink hole at least 30 feet wide and 50 feet deep swallowed 36-year-old jeff bush from his bedroom and just kept growing.

>> at this point, it's really not possible to recover the body.

>> reporter: but on sunday, authorities recovered some keepsakes for the people who lived here. an american flag , pictures and a bible.

>> god works in mysterious ways. he knew we needed this.

>> reporter: florida has more sink holes than any other state. 15,000 cases have been reported, many clustered in the central part of the state. last may this huge hole swallowed a backyard near orlando. the next month another destroyed an entire home near tampa. but they weren't nearly as bad as this 400-foot hole in 1981 that devoured homes, cars and businesses. experts say many things can cause sink holes in florida it's a domino effect . the state's sandy soil on top of clay supported by a deep layer of limestone can suddenly collapse due to shifts in florida 's unique underground rivers. but even experienced engineers say they haven't seen one quite like this.

>> the problem with this one was it was entirely within the building, so it was hidden. and so it became catastrophic.

>> reporter: once the demolition is finished, crews will decide how best to fill the hole to stabilize the area. the two homes next door remain evacuated. savannah?

>> gabe gutierrez, thank you very