Sinkhole swallows vehicle in New Jersey

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SOUTH AMBOY, N.J. (PIX11) — The ground opened up in a cul-de-sac in central New Jersey Tuesday, creating a massive sinkhole that swallowed a small SUV and forced residents from their homes, officials said.

It happened about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday in South Amboy. The sinkhole is believed to have been caused by a water main break.  "I guess (it was) the pressure," said South Amboy Fire Chief Michael Geraltowski.  "It just buckled the pavement.”

Three homes were evacuated,  said.  No one was hurt when the sinkhole opened.

“My dad, he heard what sounded like a recycling truck or something and a gust of wind. He said that part of the road collapsed in the backyard,” said Dawn Matthews. Her family’s home backs up to Gordon Street, where the collapse occurred.

Geraltowski said he believes the ground beneath the houses is stable but it's still unknown when those evacuated residents will be able to return home.  “Nothing here has been compromised,” he said, pointing to the three homes.

Utilities have been shut off to homes closest to the sinkhole and workers are the scene to assess the damage. They will start by slicing off the end of the roadway and setting up a temporary water supply to residents directly from a fire hydrant.

Residents and officials said the scenario could have been much worse.

“The St. Patricks’ Day Parade was on Sunday, and a bunch of kids were lined up here. It’s bizarre. A day later this happens,” said Dawn Matthews.

“It is very scary,” said Chief Gerlatowski, “Could have certainly been worse.”

The Middlesex County Water Company is responsible for the water main that burst.

The Vice President of the utility company, Bernadette Sohler, stated in an e-mail on Tuesday: "This main break, which occurred at the end of a dead end road caused a small portion of the road to be compromised leading to its collapse.”

Adding: "Water service has been temporarily suspended to four homes on the street, but is expected to be restored by this evening."

South Amboy’s Fire Chief says a meeting is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to discuss when evacuated residents can return home.

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