Sinkholes damage buildings and cause traffic problems

(Evan Kelly/WCIV)

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) -- Authorities are still trying to figure out what caused several sinkholes in Georgetown to open up, leaving destruction in their path.

"This just can't be happening!" said Kathy Griffith, who was shocked by the main collapse that happened just before 11pm Thursday night.

The sinkhole caused the most damage at the Parrish Place Center on US-17 and North Fraser Street.

The UPS Store in that complex collapsed, and others are afraid more buildings will follow.

"What happens if everything starts sinking?{} Then you're going to have a really major problem," Griffith said.

The Bank of America and City Hall, both across the street from the sinkhole, are also closed.

Firefighters in their station across the street heard the commotion and rushed outside.

"We immediately came out.{} Our goal was to make sure nobody was hurt," Assistant Fire Chief, Bill Johnson said.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

There are reports of more damage from smaller sink holes in the area including another one that showed up on Highmarket Street just east of the original one.

SCE&G has cut the gas off in the area so road work can be done.

SCDOT is trying to confirm if the City of Georgetown drainage project is having any impact on the situation. As a precautionary measure, the dewatering process will be temporarily discontinued.

Drivers traveling northbound must use Hazard Street while those driving southbound must use Merriman Road. Drivers may wish to consider using US Highway 17-A instead.

"Fraser Street is shut down from Market Street. You can pass in that area," said Georgetown police chief, Paul Gardner.

Access to Front Street remains open at the Fraser Street intersection. Access to City Hall is currently not available.

Officers with the Georgetown Police Department say they expect to be redirecting traffic through the weekend.{} They have a command center set up near the disaster area.

Officials are afraid there are more sinkholes that haven't opened up yet.{} Signs of damage can be seen at City Hall.

"They have cracks in their walls and floor, and that's a fairly new building," Johnson said.