WUFT News

Alachua County high risk for sinkholes like in Seffner

By on March 1st, 2013

From staff and wire reports

A sinkhole 20 feet across and 20 feet deep opened up under a man’s bedroom and swallowed him up without a trace, taking his bed, TV set and dresser, too, as he screamed for help.

Jeff Bush, 37, was presumed dead after the concrete floor caved in about 11 p.m. Thursday as everyone in the house was turning in for the night.

One expert said Marion and Alachua County are considered to be in areas of high risk for sinkholes.

Anthony Randazzo, a professor emeritus of geology, said Gainesville residents shouldn’t be suprised by the sinkhole that opened up in Seffner. Although cases involving death are rare, the event itself is not.

There are different areas in central and north Florida where sinkhole formation is more likely to occur, Randazzo said. The areas, including Marion and Alachua County, contain older limestone that has been dissolving for millions of years.

“The closer the limestone is to the surface, if it’s in a state of dissolving, creates cavities and the more likely it is to create sinkholes,” he said.

A sinkhole is a natural hole in the Earth’s surface caused when groundwater flows through easily dissolved rocks underneath the ground such as limestone and eats them away. The most dangerous sinkholes are those that collapse suddenly and can swallow car and houses and drain entire lakes without warning.

Randazzo said while most residents are aware of the possibility of sinkholes, insurance for such events should be a high priority.

“If you live in Alachua County, I would highly recommend that you have sinkhole coverage,” he said.

The sinkhole in Seffner could have been predicted and injury could have been prevented with the appropriate testing, he said.

Audreyanna Loguerre wrote this story online. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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