WATCH: Cork family forced to evacuate home as water leak leaves sinkhole in driveway

The O'Donovans contacted Irish Water about cracks appearing in the house and said 'they didn't seem too concerned'
WATCH: Cork family forced to evacuate home as water leak leaves sinkhole in driveway

A burst water pipe at the driveway to a home at McGrath Park, Blackrock, Cork, may be responsible for a sinkhole which developed overnight. Cork City Fire Brigade responded to the emergency early on Sunday morning. Picture: Larry Cummins

A Cork family was forced to evacuate their family home following a large water leak that collapsed the driveway creating a large sinkhole that partly swallowed their car.

But worryingly as well as the huge hole in McGrath Park in Blackrock, father of three Gary O’Donovan has also spotted cracks in their home.

Inspectors from Irish Water and the emergency services were on site early Sunday morning.

Mr O’Donovan said: “It’s horrific. We are out of the house, there are structural cracks in it. It looks like the water was flowing under the house all night.” 

Mr O’Donovan first spotted leaking water on Saturday evening.

“I saw a spring of water started coming down the drive, and I found a crack between the footpath and where my drive starts, it (water) was bubbling up,” he said.

He immediately called Irish Water.

“They came out and had a look,” he said. 

“They didn’t seem too concerned, they were going to get someone to come and take a look at it Monday or Tuesday to pinpoint where they might be a leak.” 

 Irish Water staff examine a burst water pipe at the driveway to the home in  Blackrock. Picture: Larry Cummins
Irish Water staff examine a burst water pipe at the driveway to the home in  Blackrock. Picture: Larry Cummins

It was the next morning when the full extent of the damage started to become clear.

“Half-past six when I woke up, I looked out and saw the car in a hole. It collapsed under the car, the car is sitting on the sill of it now,” he said.

When he looked at their Mahon home, he noticed changes to the exterior, and then to the interior walls.

I noticed new cracks on the inside of the house, and some pre-existing cracks have widened up significantly, on the inside and the outside of the house.

Mr O’Donovan, a mechanical engineer with Boston Scientific, woke his wife and three children.

They left the house but were unable to close the front door after them as the frames and door were warped by the water.

The children — aged 10, seven and five — are now staying at their grandmother’s house nearby.

He rang Irish Water again and contacted Cork Fire Brigade.

When Mr O’Donovan spoke to the Irish Examiner on Sunday morning, he and his wife were standing outside their house watching Irish Water inspectors tackling the problem.

A tape cordon was placed around the house, blocking entry.

They have told us not to go back in until they get a structural engineer. 

"I don’t know who will organise that, but we are out at the moment,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan said this is not the first time he or his neighbours have faced sinkholes but this is by far the worst incident.

“The road collapsed two and a half or three years ago right outside my house as well, it was about three or four feet away from where it is now. They (Irish Water) came out and repaired that,” he said.

 Homeowner Gary O'Donovan can only look on at the scene on Sunday morning of the sinkhole in the driveway of his home in Blackrock. Picture: Larry Cummins
Homeowner Gary O'Donovan can only look on at the scene on Sunday morning of the sinkhole in the driveway of his home in Blackrock. Picture: Larry Cummins

A neighbour also described this older damage to the Irish Examiner.

Mr O' Donovan said: "Our neighbours have been great, really supportive and helpful to us all day." 

Cork City Fire Brigade said: “Crews are currently in attendance at a burst water main in McGrath Park, Mahon. ESB Networks, Bord Gais Energy, Irish Water, and a building inspector are all at the scene.” 

They warned people to expect water outages in the area during Sunday.

A spokesman for Irish Water confirmed their staff were at the house on Sunday.

He said: "Irish Water, working in partnership with Cork City Council is aware of a burst water main in McGrath Park in Mahon, Cork. 

"Investigations are currently ongoing in relation to potential damage to property and roads in the area."

He added that engineers from Irish Water and Cork City Council are on the way to examine the site, and they will update the public when more is known.

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