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.
As a map from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection makes clear, Pasco County sits firmly within "Sinkhole Alley," a name given to a region of West Central Florida known for having a high rate of sinkhole activity. Yet even though this part of the state is known for sinkholes opening and causing damage to property, news of one of these events can still come as a shock. In particular, broadcasts about sinkhole damage and sinkholes that open underneath homes should alert residents of Pasco County and other areas around Tampa Bay to be on the lookout for signs of these potentially harmful occurrences.
Back in early January, The Tampa Tribune published a story about "sinkhole alley legislation" that aimed to allow homeowners to purchase sinkhole coverage for damage that did not rise to the level of being structural damage or "catastrophic." Earlier last month, Florida Politics reported that a Florida Senate subcommittee "unanimously approved a bill enabling insurance companies to sell standalone sinkhole insurance policies for damages falling short of catastrophic loss." The Florida House of Representative's counterpart to the Senate bill, HB 1327, has also been filed. Both bills need to pass through two more committee hearings before they can be voted on by the respective legislative bodies.
If you are new to the Florida area or have yet to hear about a sinkhole damage near your neighborhood, it is important to be aware of sinkhole activity and the serious property damage and bodily injury that can result from these phenomena. According to a recent report from CBS 10 News, a 90-foot-deep sinkhole opened up in Lutz, Florida earlier this month, and it forced the closure of the park in which it appeared. A fact sheet from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) emphasizes that sinkholes are relatively common in Florida, particularly along the southern Gulf Coast. To be sure, the Tampa Bay area frequently has reports of sinkholes impacting residential and business structures. What do you need to know about the recent sinkhole? And how can you protect yourself from sinkhole damage?