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Sinkholes open on east side of Galax

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By Shannon Watkins

Two sinkholes opened up this week on the east side of Galax, one of them underneath a vehicle.

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One appeared Tuesday in the Food City shopping center’s parking lot on E. Stuart Drive; another opened underneath a truck on Sept. 9 at the Wash Bucket Auto Care Center, at 959 E. Stuart Drive, next to McDonald’s.

The sinkholes could be a result of last weekend’s heavy rains and flash flooding. The city received 5.5 inches of rain in a short period on Sept. 8.

At the Wash Bucket, a Nissan Titan pickup truck drove over a patch of pavement that collapsed into a sinkhole, according to a report issued by the Galax Police Department.

The truck was towed from the scene, but no injuries were listed.

The sinkhole near Food City opened up without anyone near it at the time, according to witnesses.

Eden Moser of Twin County Cinemas said, “I came in [to work] and I was doing some cleaning. I was out here looking over the parking lot because we sweep it, and I went inside to get something, and when I looked out the window, there was a big hole all of a sudden.”

“I thought it was a puddle,” said Faith Carico, also present.

Moser said she understood that the sinkhole was just outside the movie theater’s property line.

The hole is roughly six feet across and deep enough to hear water running beneath it.

“They’ve had problems with various sinkholes opening up before,” said City Manager Keith Barker. “They put a drain in it back in the ‘70s and it’s starting to deteriorate.”

Another sinkhole opened near Pizza Hut at the shopping center earlier this year, and at least one vehicle drove into it.

The shopping center is owned by J.C. Faw of North Wilkesboro, N.C. The Wash Bucket is not part of the Faw property, and is owned by Robert Boone, who was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for Faw, Barry Bush, spoke about it in a brief phone interview.

“I just found out about it,” said Bush. “The one there at the entrance is on Pizza Hut’s property. We don’t own the movie theater.”

Faw’s other properties are having similar problems; a shopping center in North Wilkesboro is also experiencing sinkholes, according to an article dated June 5 in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. Bush said the North Carolina sinkhole is 50 feet deep.

“These shopping centers are about 40 years old, and that’s about the lifespan of the metal culvert underneath,” said Bush. “It’s showing its age.”

He added, “We’ve got to come see it and get a look at it and see what can be done.”

Bush said they planned to visit this week and a plan of action would be explored from there.