Unicoi County

Sinkhole testing continues at Love Chapel Elementary

Sinkhole 9-13

UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - Engineers, geologists, and insurance agents have been testing the sudden sinkhole that's caused a lot of concerns outside of Love Chapel Elementary in Unicoi County.

While students have bee moved, the Unicoi County School Board is waiting for those reports before any kind of permanent decision can be made. Parents say they trust safety is the School Board's top priority.

There's a sense of relief for parents of Love Chapel Elementary students while dropping their children off at Unicoi County Intermediate School. But kids are still nervous about the more than 100-foot deep sinkhole found nearby. "My son is scared a sinkhole is going to hit at our house. He's scared he's going to go back to school and it will take the school in," said parent Brandy Glass.

Over the last few weeks teams of engineers and geologists have been doing both seismic and floor leveling tests on the sinkhole and school. "The testing [the engineers and geologists] are doing will assure us of how stable the ground is, if we have woods under the ground, if there are other things looming around the school," said Director of Schools Denise Brown.

That looming sinkhole has been filled and Brown says it is stable, but now it's a waiting game for those reports. "They're going to have to be able to prove to me and to the school board that everything is completely safe before we would allow any students back in there," added Brown.

News 5 learned more reports will be following in the next two to three weeks, but parents say they're still concerned. "Nobody knows what's going to happen. Nobody knows that if they do fill it up, if it will be safe," said parent Angela Bailey.

It's a toss up for parents deciding to send their kids back to Love Chapel if it is deemed safe. But safety is the top concern for everyone. "I have made it my life's work for the last seven years, I have vowed to protect him as much as I can. Sending him to a school that's safe is one of those things," said Bailey.

The school board also says it does have long-term plans in place if students cannot return; one example is using portable classrooms.

The first report by engineers and geologists will be released at Thursday night's school board meeting beginning at 6 p.m.

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