LAND O' LAKES (FOX 13) - Volunteers began sorting through donations Tuesday that will go to the families impacted by the massive sinkhole in Land O' Lakes, many of whom aren't sure if or when they'll be able to return to their homes.
Penny Foote, who lives in the Lake Padgett community where the sinkhole opened Friday, has been receiving an outpouring of support since she launched her effort to help 17 families living near the hole.
"I sat there for a while [watching the news] and I was like, 'wow, we got to do something,'" she told FOX 13. "I can't even keep up with the phone calls or the messages, they come in too fast."
Foote and her friend, Danielle Sullivan, started immediately by launching a Facebook page.
In a matter of days, Foote's living room was filled with donated clothes, food, household items and so much more.
Foote partnered with the United Way to determine which families need to be assisted. She said everyone's needs are different; some families need less, but a few need just about everything.
"We're looking at, at least, six seven families that have total loss, if not more," she said, adding the families with children have urgent needs too. "There was a lady who said her kids won't even go to bed, they won't even sleep and they're several houses down. It's just the fear."
"It's overwhelming, it's a lot of good people out there," added Sullivan, whose boyfriend lives next door to the sinkhole. "Everything affects your daily life, so the community just kind of knows that and they've been amazing."
Terence Doohan owns one of the houses that sits on the edge of the crater and can't believe the amount of support he's seen from friends and even from neighbors he's never met.
"When you see not only your community but people that you don't even know stepping up and just offering anything they can, it really does mean a lot," Doohan said. "They offered us meals and food and we've been offered clothes and toothpaste and everything you can imagine. They've dropped off anonymously some gift cards."
The county gave neighbors some positive news Tuesday: all of the water tested for E.Coli came back clean.
The Florida Department of Health, however, plans to continue conducting its own testing. Officials recommend anyone living within 500 feet of the hole use bottled water as a precaution.
It's unclear when the cleanup and repair will begin; Pasco County officials said they are having trouble getting a hold of the insurance companies for the homeowners directly involved.