Sinkhole that could swallow McDowell County apartments forces residents to evacuate

MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. — Residents in McDowell County were forced out of their apartments because of a sinkhole that officials said could potentially swallow the complex.

[ALSO READ: Northeast Charlotte neighborhood riddled with sinkholes, homeowners must pay to fix]

More than 40 residents at the Westwood Chateau Condominiums were given just hours to evacuate Tuesday.

One of the complex owners said he noticed some structural issues with the buildings over the summer, so he hired a geotechnical engineer, who discovered the sinkhole.

Residents told Channel 9's Dave Faherty the sink holes are under the parking lot and the buildings and some are as big as 30-feet across.

The complex was built on a lake and for years, water from the lake flowed under the property.

Officials said they plan to drain the lake about a foot or two so they can get a camera through the drain line to see how much damage has been done to the property.

Residents said the first sign of trouble came months ago when they noticed some of the bricks on the buildings had begun to shift and crack on others.

"They've got 30-foot diameter voids up underneath these buildings and they're worried about the buildings structurally collapsing," resident Bob Cozart said.

Resident Shevia Fox said insurance will not cover her condo, which was just renovated.

"We were just in shock. We were just in shock when we found out things were this serious," Fox said.

The President of the Homeowners Association Jane Neal said an engineering firm found the large voids under the property, but the cost to fix it is millions more than the value of the property itself.

"It's tragic for the people who live here. They've lost there homes. They're not gonna get their money back," Neal said. "I thought I would spend the rest of my life here. It's love here. It was beautiful. Something I could afford. It is heartbreaking."

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com: