Is Florida sinking?


Hillsborough County Fire Rescue

Courtesy of FOX43.COM

  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 from the state 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 earthquakes or tsunamis. Florida just happens to be the home of sinkholes just as Alaska and California are home to earthquakes. These sinkholes are not something just opened up out of nowhere, they are to be expected.

  There are 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 pockets are known as rock caves, and exist under the state’s surface. As the state became more developed and we began to build on top of these caves, the pressure above these caves causes them to collapse.

  The time it takes to collapse is unknown and immeasurable. We know that these caves are here and have been here longer than we have. There are documented sinkholes in the state of Florida since as early as the 1800s.

Courtesy of A possible mechanism for sinkhole formation.
Courtesy of
A possible mechanism for sinkhole formation.

  Home owners are fleeing some sink holes areas for good reason. A recent tragedy in Seffner reveals the danger. Jeff Bush, 37, and part of his house were swallowed by a 30 feet wide by 25 feet deep sinkhole in February. Danger is a major concern to some residents. Some are evacuating as precaution. Others are finding it too expensive to keep their homes.

  Areas of recent sinkholes such as Seffner and Ocala may also suffer a major loss in property values. Sinkhole insurance is not feasible for the average family in that area. Most insurance companies do not have sinkhole coverage as an option. This makes it extremely difficult for some homeowners, especially younger homeowners, because some banks offer financing contingent upon keeping costly insurance premiums.

  Sinkholes have opened all over Tampa’s surrounding area. Two large sinkholes have swallowed resorts in Orlando Florida this year. The first incident was estimated at over $53 million dollars in insurance claims. A 5-acre, 8 feet deep pond in Woodland Villages, a housing neighborhood in Ocala, was emptied on August 20, by an apparent sinkhole.

Courtesy of Underwater sinkhole.
Courtesy of
Underwater sinkhole.

  In August 2012, a sinkhole was discovered in the Louisiana bayou, 40 miles south of Baton Rouge in swampy waters. Over the last year, the hole has expanded to over 24 acres. Over 350 residents near the bayou were evacuated. More recently, on August 20, 15 feet of treeline submerged beneath the earth as the sinkhole devoured the land. The disappearing trees were caught on live camera and are popular views on 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. A collapsed rock cave between 1425 and 1427 Lake Shore Ranch Drive opened in a homeowner’s backyard.

  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 homes have been evacuated as a precautionary measure. This location is within 2 miles of the hole that opened in February.

  Tourists might be 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 caused by a massive 60 feet wide, 15 feet deep sinkhole that 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 hurt the economy of our state. People may decide to take their families to Disney Land instead of Disney World.

  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.