There are several families in Land O' Lakes this week who are counting their blessings and are thankful to be alive after a 50 foot deep sinkhole opened up in their neighborhood. At present, two homes are reported to have been destroyed with other nearby homes likely to have suffered structural damage.
Although some families have been cleared to return to their homes, five homes remain empty despite the fact the sinkhole has reportedly stopped growing. "We're treating this, in essence, as a hazmat incident," explains Pasco County's Assistant Administrator for Public Safety, Kevin Guthrie, in a CNN article. The sinkhole, which is presently stopped up by debris, contains water contaminated by "household chemicals and septic tank parts."
'It's size grew dramatically'
While some families in the affected area had time to grab belongings and mementos, others were not so lucky. As reports indicate, this was an incredibly fast-growing sinkhole. What began as a swimming-pool sized sinkhole quickly grew into a 225 to 230 foot wide monster. As Pasco County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Murphy explains, the sinkhole took only about 30 minutes to grow from a couple feet across to being able to swallow an entire house and move onto the next one.
The road to repairing and rebuilding lives
Now that the sinkhole appears to have stopped, repairs and rebuilding can begin. The first step will be to clear the debris from the sinkhole and make sure it is properly drained. Then will come the process of stabilizing the land. If this isn't done properly, future sinkholes could form, causing more property damage in the process.
After stabilizing the ground, construction can begin to replace the two destroyed homes and repair nearby homes that suffered structural damage. It's important for homeowners near the sinkhole site to know how to identify sinkhole damage, which can include everything from hairline cracks in the ceiling to sediment in water lines, in order to recover the full extent of damages covered by their policies.
Dealing with insurers
Florida is known for its sinkholes and insurers in the area know this. While the hope for homeowners is that their insurance provider will cover all of the damage the sinkhole caused, it's possible some homeowners may experience pushback from their insurer. If this happens, legal action may be necessary in order to recover what is owed.