DeLand homeowners concerned after washout opens massive hole in ground

Article Courtesy of  WESH 2 News Orlando

By Claire Metz

Published April 10, 2023



VOLUSIA COUNTY -- A huge washout with a drop of more than 40 feet has homeowners in one DeLand community on edge.

People who live in the Saddlebrook neighborhood say their backyards are dropping away, and it's getting worse every day.

"I am petrified obviously for my property, my family. I've got four kids," resident Tabitha Ruge said.

Ruge doesn't have a backyard pool, but she's got a massive hole in the ground out back that she never asked for, a washout that continues to grow, slowly eating up the land and inching toward hers and other homes.

"My husband has measured it. It was about 70 feet from our property, we've lost. We're about 25 feet from the edge of the erosion now," Ruge said.


The Ruges built their home in 2016 when the back, which is Homeowners Association property, was a gradual slope with drainage and manicured grass.

Signs of trouble developed, though and in 2021, things really got bad, as the entire concrete drainage system collapsed. Pipes and tubing went down along with trees.

"Every time we hit the rainy season, we're wondering how much more we're going to lose of our HOA property but getting closer and closer to ours," Ruge said.

The Homeowners Association for Saddlebrook filed a lawsuit against the developer of the community in February 2020, citing negligent and deficient construction.

There were other issues in addition to this big problem. The case was dismissed in November of last year following an out-of-court settlement.

A spokesman for the HOA says the board has engaged an engineer and is actively seeking vendors to make the necessary repairs.

It's not soon enough for Ruge, who says they've been living life on the edge for too long already with no action and few updates.

She noted the HOA never even put up danger signs.

"I've put warnings out on our Facebook page just because I'm petrified a kid is going to come running through here or God forbid a dog takes off and somebody goes racing after them. You can't see that that's a drop-off," Ruge said.

Homeowners are also concerned about property values as the ground around them continues to fall.

After complaints and media stories, someone put up a fence Thursday morning due to the dangerous drop off about 45 feet.

A spokesman for the city of DeLand says they are aware of the issue and have been in contact with the HOA board. They say though it's private property, they are available to offer guidance or connect the HOA to resources.