Mayor declares state of emergency after massive hole swallows cars in IHOP parking lot

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WJTV) — Imagine sitting down to enjoy a stack of pancakes, then all of a sudden you feel a rumble coming from deep underground.

The next thing you know, the Earth has swallowed your car. That scene played out in Meridian this past weekend. Now, the mayor has declared a state of emergency.


City officials said a giant drainage structure collapsed, which caused the ground to open.

Dozens of cars are still in the hole.  Depending on the weather, crews are going to try to get the cars out Monday afternoon, so that they can more closely examine the hole and what caused it to cave in.

Mayor Percy Bland said the declaration of a state of emergency will allow them to remove the cars that fell into the hole and to bring in outside engineering experts to figure out what caused the pavement to collapse.

People who live nearby said they’ve never seen anything like it before.

The IHOP, where the incident happened, just opened last week.

“It worries me because me and my wife intended to come down here this weekend to eat breakfast,” said Channie Donald. “We love IHOP. We can see it was in the parking lot, we’re kind of waiting now to see what’s going on.”

Grace Cooper, who lives nearby, said the news has traveled to her family members out of state.

“I got calls from Vegas, I got calls from California, I got calls from New York,” he said. “It is all over the news. This is a lot. How they’re going to rectify it, I don’t know.”

People in the area said they are happy that no one was hurt.

City crews are trying to restore water to nearby businesses.

Mayor Bland said they are working and that he plans on using his authority, including emergency powers, to do everything he could to ensure the public’s safety and to work with the owners of the restaurant to get it up and running at the earliest possible date.

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