TODAY   |  November 15, 2013

Huge sinkhole swallows homes in Florida

Officials are assessing the danger of a huge sinkhole that opened up in a residential community in Dunedin, Florida. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> officials in florida are assessing the damage and danger from the massive sinkhole that swallowed up homes. janet is in a chopper high above the scene. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you. this sinkhole has grown in size overnight and there's more debris falling in. from our vantage point we're about 1,000 feet over as you can see these homes were could be swallowed up. this morning, they know how lucky they are but the question is, what happens next? last night, 15 hour afs the earth first opened up the 90 foot wide , 50 foot deep sinkhole was still growing and eating away at this house.

>> i don't think it's livable. i wouldn't want to live in there anymore.

>> michael dupree is the owner of the home. this shows how the house and it's contents were taken by the sinkhole. today he and his neighbor are hoping they can return to salvage memories before the sinkhole gets them.

>> it's huge.

>> reporter: neighbors know they live in an area prone to sinkholes. in march, a 30 foot hole opened and swallowed a man as hi slept. his body was never recovered and in august, a 90 foot sinkhole got part of a vacation resort in florida. they're common because the soil sits atop clay and limestone. it creates a cavity and when the heavy top layer collapses it creates a sinkhole.

>> it could continue to come into other yards and open. so it is definitely an emergency situation here right now.

>> reporter: a neighborhood under assault from the ground below.

>> i just feel real bad for these people because they're just wonderful people and now they can't even get near their house.

>> reporter: these two homes have been condemned. they're going to be tearing them down later this week and starting today they're going to start filling in that sinkhole for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to keep people here out of danger. back to you.

>> janet, thank you so much and our big thanks to our tampa affiliate for helping us out with the chopper this morning. incredible pictures.

>> you get the perspective on how big this is. let's