Salvage crew finds cash, few belongings at Pasco sinkhole site

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. -- Workers in charge of removing debris from that massive sinkhole in Land O’ Lakes have been bringing some of it to a local landfill, where people who owned and rented those properties can try to salvage something of value.

It's a dangerous, dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it.

“That's right, we do all the stuff people don't want to do,” said Gary Grubbs, owner of Grubbs Emergency Services.

 Grubbs’ company was hired by Pasco County to remove tons of debris. His team, including his brother and son, are just crazy enough to climb into the 50-foot-deep abyss. 

“We got life jackets. We've got the ropes. We've got everything we need on there just in case something happens,” said Grubbs.

Most, if not all, of the debris belongs to people who'd been renting the two houses destroyed on day one.

Somewhere in the watery pit is several automobiles, two boats a motorcycle and more ... including cash.

The Grubbs found $1,900 floating as they were working.

“Digging around, removing material, and it came out of something. Just kind of floating in the water. And it was all stuck together,” said Grubbs.

Grubbs is using a barge and a small front loader to collect what they can find, then load it into nearby dump trucks. 

Debris from the sinkhole is then eventually making its way to the Pasco County landfill of Hays Road.

Officials at the landfill say most of the debris is too damaged to salvage, but the rest has been scattered on an area near the public drop-off section, where residents can then sift through it at their own risk. They’ve been warned that some of the debris may have been exposed to bio-contamination that Grubbs’ team faces constantly on the job site.

“It's a dangerous situation,” said Grubbs. “We have to go through some specific procedures that allow us to stay safe.”

As for the biggest items including the cars and boats? They’re gone, says Grubbs. They've been sucked underground too deep for them to reach.  

But Tuesday morning his team did find a file cabinet inside the last small piece of the house still standing at the edge of the sinkhole. Inside it: what appeared to be important legal papers.

“They were pretty excited when they had seen that,” said Grubbs.

A small victory, amid so much loss. 

“At this stage, any good news is great news,” he said.

Pasco County says it has a pretty good idea who that cash belongs to.

Grubbs says it should take only another day or two to remove the rest of the debris that they can reach.

They figure it will take an additional five or six days to get the sinkhole shored up, just as long as it doesn't continue to grow any further.

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