Published Mass Comm

Is Florida sinking?

-Jessica Bartels

August 2013

In recent news stories Florida has been called the Swiss cheese state.   Some tourists will change their vacation destinations. Many homeowners are packing up their belongings and fleeing the state of Florida due to a series of sinkholes opening up throughout the state. Running is not going to help. Sinkholes are just one of the world’s many natural disasters. Other parts of the world are more susceptible to disasters like earthquakes or tsunamis. Florida just happens to be the playground of sinkholes just as Alaska and California are home to earthquakes. This is nothing new in the state.   These sinkholes did not just open out of nowhere.   They are to be expected. There are a few theories of why Florida has sinkholes. The most commonly accepted theory is that Florida was once under water. As it rose above sea level the land held air pockets because of a mixture of acidic water with oxygen. These are pockets are known as rock caves under the state’s surface. As the state became more developed and we began to build on top of such as these caves. The pressure above these caves causes them to collapse. The time it takes to collapse is unknown and immeasurable. We do know that these caves are here and have been here longer than we have. We have documented sinkholes in the state of Florida since as early as the 1800’s.

making a sinkhole

Home owners are fleeing the area for many reasons. After a recent tragedy in Seffner a 37 year old man, Jeff Bush , and part of his house was swallowed by a 30 feet wide by 25 feet deep sinkhole on February 28, 2013. Danger is a major concern to some residents.  Others are finding it too expensive to keep their homes. Areas of recent sinkholes such as Seffner and Ocala will suffer a major loss in property value. Sinkhole insurance is not feasible for the average family in that area. Most insurance companies do not have sinkhole coverage at all as of _____. This makes it extremely difficult for some homeowners, especially new/young homeowners, because some banks offer financing contingent upon keeping sinkhole insurance.

sumer bay sinkhole orlando

We found an insurance company that offers sinkhole coverage. An interview with Mrs. Delona White gives us all the details about the coverage.

 

INTERVIEW WITH INSURANCE AGENT

 

 

 

Tourists are thinking twice before loading the kids up for their trip to Disney World. Some people are apprehensive after the recent collapse of Summer Bay resort in Orlando due to a massive 60 feet wide, 15 feet deep sinkhole opened on August 11, 2013. Because of the “outbreak of sinking spots” Florida may drop in the top ten hot spots to visit. Unfortunately, that will only hurt the economy of our state. People may decide to take their families to Disney Land instead of Disney World. I hope people realize whichever coast you visit you are at equal danger to natural disaster. These disasters are just what the name describes: natural. They are unavoidable. Tornados, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, tidal waves… you pick your disaster when you pick your location.

Sinkholes have opened all over Florida’s surrounding area. Two large sinkholes have swallowed resorts in Orlando Florida this year. The first incident equaled over 53 million dollars in insurance claims. A 5 acre 8 feet deep pond, in Woodland Villages a housing neighborhood of Ocala Florida, was emptied on August 20, 2013 by an opening sinkhole. August 2012 a sinkhole was discovered in the Louisiana bayou 40 miles south of Baton Rouge in the swampy waters. Over the last year the hole has expanded over 24 acres. Over 350 residents near the bayou were evacuated August 20, 2013 when 15 feet trees submerged beneath the earth as the sinkhole devoured the land. The disappearing trees were caught on live camera and continue to bounce around social media. Florida is not the only place worrying over sinkholes.

As for the Bay area four major sinkholes have opened in Seffner this year. The most recent appearance was on the weekend of August 24, 2013. We visited and documented the sinkhole in below. This collapsed rock cave is in between 1425-1427 Lake Shore Ranch dr. Seffner Florida. Although the 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep hole is far enough from homes that sheriffs do not believe it to be a threat, people residing in nearby home have been evacuated as a precautionary measure. This is within 2 miles of the hole that opened in February.Florida Sinkhole Home Demolition

Pictures from sinkhole in Seffner courtesy of Jessica Bartels

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