SOUTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Crews pulled a car out of a huge sinkhole in South Amboy, New Jersey Tuesday afternoon – and some neighbors still were not being allowed back in their homes.
Around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, authorities were alerted about the 20-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up on Gordon Street. Throughout the day, it was a bad, tense scene – with people wondering why the ground collapsed and if there was still any danger.
Authorities said a broken water main that undermined the earth was to blame for the sinkhole.
A neighbor first called to report that his car had been stolen – but that was not what had happened at all. He discovered that it actually had been swallowed up by the sinkhole, along with part of his yard.
"My dad, he said around 6 o'clock, he heard some crackling, high winds -- almost like a recycling truck, it sounded like," said Dawn Matthews, the daughter of the man who lost his car. "He looked to the front and he didn't see a recycling truck, but then he went to the back, and saw in the back of the house, the neighbor's fence was kind of going down, and saw that part of road collapsed."
Homes Evacuated After Huge Sinkhole Opens Up In South Amboy
About an hour later, more of the street collapsed. Video from the scene showed a small SUV covered in mud that appears to have been swallowed up as the road gave way.
"All of the utilities have been shut off to these houses, we've evacuated three houses and there's a car at the bottom of the hill," Fire Chief Mike Geraltowski said.
A broken fire hydrant was also visible amidst the rubble.
"At one time there was a fire hydrant at the end of the street, which you can no longer see," Geraltowski told 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa. "The water broke and caused a sinkhole, for lack of a better word."
Neighbors were shocked at the sight.
"As a child, I used to play down there, and it was pretty steep," said 50-year South Amboy resident Jack Roberts, "and when you hear of sinkholes, you think of Florida or someplace, but there's one over at the end of the street there."
Residents of three homes were evacuated and will not be allowed to return Tuesday night.
"Our priority right now is to make the roadway safe so that the residents can get into homes. Like I said, I don't think that's going to happen tonight," Geraltowski said. I was talking to OEM coordinator, and that's not going to happen tonight.
On Feb. 20, another water main broke on Bordentown Avenue a block away from the site.
Neighbors said they are lucky this happened when it did and not on Sunday when Gordon Street was lined with kids and families taking part in South Amboy's St. Patrick's Day parade.
South Amboy police said Gordon Street will be closed until further notice in the area east of Pine Avenue as crews make emergency repairs.
Drivers and pedestrians are being urged to avoid the area.
for more features.