Florida Sinkhole Reopens and Threatens NeighborhoodBy: Rachel Kolman - April 20, 2014
A Florida Sinkhole more than 25 feet across and 50 feet deep opened up between two homes this weekend in the Florida residential community “The Villages.” The hole opened after heavy rainfall in the area put stress on the soil, causing the ground to collapse. This new sinkhole comes just weeks after a previous sinkhole was filled in on the same property. Crews had just finished completely filling and securing the first hole on Friday night when they were back on Saturday night to treat an adjacent, and larger, sinkhole. (I think it’s time to look into some new property, homeowners!)
Thankfully, no one was injured, and both families were out of the house when parts of their yard and driveway were sucked into the hole. Crews this time worked round the clock Saturday and Sunday morning to work on filling the dangerous hole as soon as possible. This much larger hole has great potential to spread and open even larger next time, threatening the entire block and even neighborhood. Currently, the hole is being filled with 115 truckloads of grout, with sand hole crews telling local news they’ll lay dirt, grass, and landscaping starting on Monday.
One of the homes is also secured with steel pinnings directly to the limestone, which can keep the structure in place if another hole opened. ‘The house isn’t going to go anywhere, as long as the hole doesn’t move much past where it is right now,’ geologist Drew Glasbrenner says. ‘You can never know for sure but the repair should slow it down and eventually stop it from expanding,’ he added.
County officials say that if sinkholes continue to be a problem in the area (which is likely during the rainy season), more residents could be asked to evacuate their homes as a safety precaution. This is an all too common problem in Florida, which is only second behind Minnesota in most sinkholes in the United States. Three Tampa Bay counties – Hernando, Pasco, and Hillborough – are known as “sinkhole alley,” as two-thirds of all of Florida’s sinkhole damage comes from that area.
What exactly causes these holes to open in the ground? For one, Florida’s peninsula is made of porous carbonate limestone rocks, which are rocks that help move water underground. Over time, these rocks dissolve and from an acid created by the oxygen molecules in water, creating gaps underneath the limestone roof. When the pressure on the surface becomes too much for the limestone roof to carry, the roof collapses and the dissolved limestone hole is exposed. The most extreme case of sinkhole damage happened just last February, when Florida man Jeffrey Bush was sucked into a sinkhole that opened underneath his bedroom. Despite an exhaustive search, his body was never found.
Image via The Weather Network