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My Street Is Eating Cars - A Sinkhole Hits Santa Monica

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Even for L.A. this is a bad parking job.

On Saturday morning my roommates and I woke suddenly to the overpowering sound of a police officer speaking loudly on a megaphone. I couldn't make out what he was saying, but whenever there is an authority figure on a megaphone, it's usually not a good thing.

I dragged myself to the front door and peered out the screen door to see what was going on. I noticed scattered police officers, firemen and what appeared to be construction workers, but I couldn't really see what the problem was. That is, until I looked a bit harder.

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It's a hole. Damn. Wait a second. There's a car in it?

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Ever hear the one about the surfer, the fireman and the woman that walked into a sinkhole?

That's right. A sinkhole had opened up about 7 a.m. on my street (Euclid St. and Ocean Park in Santa Monica) after a water main had broken, washing away most of the sand that was used as support for the pavement. The combination of water and sand sloshed down hill over the next couple of blocks and some poor sap's car began to fall into the hole. By the end, the entire car fell below street level and the hole (by my rough estimation) was about 25 feet long and 8 feet long. Maybe God is tired of all the cars in Los Angeles and he's slowly dragging them down into the earth, I thought with amusement.

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We had fire lines and police lines all over the place, including at our front door.

"It's just a sinkhole, this kind of thing happens all the time," said the grizzled camera man who was shooting it for some local TV station from my yard. Camera man made it sound like sinkholes were as common as fender benders in LA.

Of course, I did remember one of my old neighbors a couple months back tell me about a huge water main break a few years ago. I looked it up and on this exact same street, a 300 foot sinkhole opened up in 2002. The neighbor speculated it was partly due to the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

At any rate, my roommate Chris and I walked up to the hole (he took the pictures I've posted) and we got yelled at by a cop.

"Didn't you hear the announcement? You have to stay inside your homes. There may be an explosion."

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Great, a gas line breaks. There could be a giant explosion and going inside my apartment is going to keep me from safety. Maybe it's explosion proof, speculated my roommate.

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It took awhile for the city to pump all the sludge out of the hole.

It's now been a couple days, and our street is still barricaded. Right now it looks like city workers are tearing up the entire street. In the meantime, I've been researching sinkholes.

I'm certainly glad we didn't have a sinkhole likethe one that hit Guatamala earlier this year. That would be bad.

All I know is that I don't plan on telling my parents. This is what they imagined L.A. would be like all the time. Fires, earthquakes, gangs, and eventually the whole city would be swallowed up.

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Euclid Street has been blocked off for three straight days now.

Photos By Chris Pycior