Natural Disaster in Florida
Sinkholes are one of the most dangerous natural disasters. Unlike hurricanes and other natural disasters, which are generally concentrated in specific geographies, sinkholes are much more common, with about 20% of US land at risk for a sinkhole. As residents of the southeastern united states, we are the lucky residents to see even higher numbers. States like Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee are among the most affected states in the country. However, they lag behind Florida, where almost every part of the state has underlying soil and rock conditions that are especially famous for sinkholes. Sinkholes in Florida are the equivalent to Colorado’s snowstorms, many and often.
But what causes sinkholes and what are these features? They are a depression or a hole in the ground, which results from some sort of collapse of the surface ground where the surface ground falls in and fills in gaps in the underlying ground. Both man-made effects and natural effects can cause sinkholes, however, most occur naturally and as a result of subsurface water penetration. Water running through an area or standing for long periods of time often erode the subsurface over time, creating larger and larger caverns which eventually can no longer support the ground above it. At this point, the surface earth suddenly and quickly collapses to fill the hole. Sinkholes are most common in areas where the rock below the surface is limestone, carbonate rock, or other soluble rock types that are very susceptible to erosion.
How to Cope with Sinkholes
In Florida, almost the entire state has a subsurface rock that is susceptible to erosion. Close to the state’s entirety sits above evaporite rock, karst rock, or in some instances, both. Because of this, it is not a luxury, but a necessity to monitor these elements. When properties are being pursued for occupancy, purchased, or developed in any way, qualified engineers must be consulted to ensure the subject property is safe and even capable of having weight-bearing structures above them. Oftentimes through investigation, one will uncover characteristics that indicate this is, in fact, not possible. It is important to do your research on the safest place to live. In addition, existing properties need to be periodically reviewed for their structural integrity for today as well as their ability to withstand weight-bearing structures in the future. While there is a cost to this exercise, it pales in comparison to the costs associated with a sinkhole collapse. Let us help you avoid these disasters by discussing a safe zone for your property and exploring counties with fewest records of land disruption.
In the event you address the problem too late, meaning after it occurs, there are still solutions to move you forward in the right direction. Rebuilding is not easy and often involves not only stabilizing the subsurface and surface to support a foundation for a structure, but also a full design – analysis plan to allow you to repair and rebuild utilities appropriately. Our team of engineers ranges from experts in geotechnical analyses to utilities and full property design. Our team will work with you, your insurers, your architects, and any other team members to streamline a swift and professional response to address the issue. We have become a go-to source for preventing these issues and fixing them once they have arisen. Trust our background to keep you safe.