Parking lot cave-in swallows cars at IHOP

Parking lot cave-in swallows cars at IHOP

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Officials are working to determine what exactly caused a parking lot to cave-in at a Mississippi IHOP location.

"Oh my God, I mean this is in Meridian," Bystander Sandra White said. "I know things happen out of town like this, but right here in Meridian, our hometown. I've never seen this before and it's just devastating to me."

Meridian Mayor Percy Bland, who received word about what many are calling a sinkhole says he isn't sure exactly what is going on, but the city is taking every measure possible to make sure the area remains safe as they investigate the matter at hand.

"What we're trying to do right now and what we did last night is try to provide public safety for our citizens," Mayor Bland stated. "We called MDOT, they had to come out and do a compaction test from Frontage Road back South. Everything was fine so we opened back up Frontage Street. We're still in the fact finding process right now."

Mayor Bland says the area that caved-in was at one point a large culvert. One video shows what appears to be a culvert that has collapsed. The clip even shows the extent of the damage with numerous cars overturned, in what officials are saying is a 30 foot drop off.

Initial estimates had the cave-in extending nearly 600 feet, but officials are correcting that and saying it's 36' by 374', which is still cause for concern.

"I didn't say I wouldn't consider it to be a sinkhole, we've never experienced a sinkhole," Public Safety Director Buck Roberts said. "I don't know what you call it or what the definition of a sinkhole is. It's a major problem, but I'm not going to call it a sinkhole, I'm not going to call it a cave-in, I'm going to call it an accident."

No matter what your take is, it's certainly creating buzz around town, as passerby's slow down to take pictures, creating traffic problems.

"It's a thing you don't normally see in Meridian, but also take into consideration that traffic has to flow and it ties officers up to see this," said Roberts.

Mayor Bland says he's proud of the response time from emergency responders, who worked to prevent any further damage. As for bystanders it's become a sight for them to remember.

"This is the first time I've ever seen this, this is just incredible, I've never seen this before," White exclaimed.