Sinkhole causes extensive flooding across Bolivar, Mo. couple’s land

Bolivar sinkhole floods seven acres of land
Bolivar sinkhole floods seven acres of land(Michael Van Schoik)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 10:14 PM CDT
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POLK COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - A Bolivar couple’s retirement property is now a swampland after a sinkhole opened up across their land several months ago.

The sinkhole has caused extensive flooding across seven acres of land. Even USDA scientists say they have never seen anything like it.

Just along Highway 83 in Bolivar sits Dominic and Kathleen Visione’s house. Acres of land sits just beyond their gravel driveway. Most of it now sits underwater.

”It’s hard to put in words,” Dominic and Kathleen Visione said.

The couple said the beautiful wooded area seemed like a perfect spot to retire.

”We bought it for the trees,” they both agreed. “We love the trees. The house was a bonus.”

The Visiones moved to Polk County in 2021. They had the area brush hogged, which quickly revealed what sat below those trees. Lots and lots of water sat underneath the ground.

”When he took his brush hog out there, it buried it up to the axle,” the couple described.

Since then, the issue has only gotten worse.

”You could almost watch the water slowly coming up, and coming up, and coming up,” Dominic Visione said.

Areas of grass are now replaced with water and mud. The couple worries about the water seeping into their home and other buildings.

”I would just cry every day,” Kathleen Visione said. “I can cry right now just thinking about it. I don’t want to leave, but it’s really hard waking up any morning.”

Storms like last week’s only cause more stress for the Visiones.

”Every time it rains, it’s just like, oh no, here it goes again,” Kathleen Visione said. “We never thought we’d have to go through something like this.”

The couple has reached out to several state and federal agencies, but no avail.

“We’re told this is common for this part of the state, but nobody seems to have a plan to do anything when this goes awry like it did here,” Dominic Visione said.

The sinkhole reaches eight to 12 feet, and it does not drain. The Visiones shared letters from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the USDA. In one letter, a USDA scientist even told the couple that in his 25 years, he had never seen a sinkhole turn into a wetland like this one.

”We can’t get flood insurance because this is not considered a flood plain,” Dominic Visione said. “We’re close to a natural anomaly that is a sinkhole that will not drain and just keeps filling with water.”

The couple has also been told they cannot change the path of the water, but they can “help it along” if it is naturally flowing in a certain direction. The Visiones said the ground is too soft for machines, so they have to work by hand. They use shovels to help guide streams of the water away.

In the meantime, the Visiones said a state representative has offered to help and hopes to form an immediate plan of action as soon as the legislative session ends.

The couple said one of their biggest concerns is the safety along State Highway 83. They said the water has even reached the roadway after heavy rains.

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