Tunnels have always had a certain amount of mystery and are endlessly fascinating. I would happily enter any sturdy, well-constructed tunnel. And when I write well-constructed, I mean made by man or the universe itself. Tunnels can also feel like magical places where dragons might be guarding a long-buried treasure, or they could very well be the entry point to another world entirely. Unfortunately, tunnels can also be terrifying.
For one TikToker, her interest in tunnels began with a project closer home. It's so close to home that it's actually beneath her very house. Kala, who goes by @engineer.everything on TikTok, has been given the name Tunnel Girl by fans who have been following her excavating journey since the beginning. However, things don't appear to be entirely on the up and up when it comes to what's going down and down below her home. What happened to Kala the Tunnel Girl? Let's dig around for some answers.
What happened to Kala the Tunnel Girl from TikTok? It all started with a storm shelter.
"I am about to embark on a new and complex project," said Kala in her first TikTok about what initially began as a storm shelter beneath her house. In October 2022 she took to social media to announce that this endeavor would take quite a bit of time and planning, and engineering of course. The shelter would be located off the side of what she called her "bunker/home office" and would start with cutting a sizable hole into some reinforced concrete blocks. There was no mention of Kala's qualifications.
Less than week after starting Kala already had a ton of rock removed from the wall, but she encountered her first problem which was leakage. Once that was taken care of, Kala made her own mine elevator cart for removing debris and purchased an electric hoist for her handmade mine elevator. By November Kala was 13 feet into the shelter with only a few more bumps in the road to show for it. Well, I say "bumps," but one issue was high levels of radiation. Yikes!
Suddenly in March 2023, Kala began referring to the storm shelter project as the "secret tunnel under [her] house." It's unclear when she made the switch, or why, but it was a significant update. She also stumbled upon stone she can use for other structures, like a castle Kala said she is planning on building. By December 2023, the storm shelter had become a "tunnel system."
Kala the Tunnel Girl has no formal training as an engineer.
According to NBC News, Kala is not an engineer nor did she studying engineering in school. "It doesn’t take much for me to pick up a skill. I can often learn skills just by doing it with minimal instruction," she told the outlet. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Kala's project has come under fire, and I don't mean literally (though that has also occurred).
An investigative reporter by the name of Aura Borgado took to TikTok to explain how Kala's tunnel system has affected her neighbors. Aura's interest was piqued by a video Kala posted which featured one of her neighbors who apparently did not consent to being filmed. She decided to look into just how much Kala's neighbors knew and the answer was: nothing.
The first thing Aura took note of was the fact that most of Kala's neighbors are first generation immigrants or migrants. "They are really worried about their health and their safety," Aura shared. Evidently there was a "tremendous amount of noise" as well as shaking coming from Kala's house. Unfortunately these neighbors were very nervous about reporting Kala due to immigration authorities, but that didn't stop a couple of people from reporting Kala.
The project was shut down, but Kala said in late December 2023 that she was "working it out."
Kala posted an update in February 2024 about the "permit situation."
Kala posted an update in February 2024, recalling that she'd received a stop work order in December and was told she needed to apply for a permit and get an engineering assessment. In her update, Kala claimed that she'd found a qualified engineer within a week whose "report concluded that the structure of tunnel is sufficient to support the rock and that the rock itself is stable and showing no sign of shifting." She said this "report was accepted" and added that she "worked with an architect to submit a set of drawings for the permit application."
"I am still working to respond to comments and to provide information for the city for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, structural, and geotechnical aspects of the project," she said.
She also noted that "at this time I requested an extension and am expecting the process to continue for at least a month more," but she said she was "optimistic."