PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The number of sinkholes in Florida have surged since Hurricane Irma hit.
It’s been nine months since a large sinkhole opened up on Ocean Pines Drive in Pasco County. Now, a company that deals with sinkholes everyday is warning folks to be aware. Especially after Hurricane Irma and because we’ve entered the unofficial “sinkhole season.”
Thomas Beddow believes when it comes to sinkholes he’s cursed.
“It’s the sinkhole curse, it follows me wherever I go," said Beddow.
Even with sinkhole coverage it cost him half a million dollars to fix the 175-foot-deep hole in his old home even force to pay $20,000 out of pocket. His nightmare is making a comeback. He tells us his new condo is showing signs of activity. Plus, his neighbor down the street currently working to repair one.
“Without a doubt there’s more sinkholes in Florida," said James Olson director of geology and geophysics for Geohazards Inc. "It is substantially more prevalent in Florida than anywhere else in the United States.”
The sinkhole expert warns because of Hurricane Irma, more Floridians are going to have stories like Beddow’s.
“Geohazards experienced about a 112% increase in the amount of private properties that are looking into sinkhole investigations," said Olson.
He says Tampa Bay is already especially prone to them because of the old limestone with deep cavities. Add some rain and the ground is even more unstable. According to the Florida Geological Survey more than 400 sinkholes have been reported in the state since Irma hit.
“The more development does happen it’s going to increase the frequency that humans encounter those sinkholes," he said.
Beddow wishes Floridians dealing with a sinkhole some luck but to those looking to move to paradise, he has this advice.
"Live in a trailer, something on wheels where if in the middle of the night you hear something go ‘bang’ or ‘crack’ you can pull away," he said.
So can you prepare for a sinkhole? There’s two things you can do today. Check out maps by the Florida Geological Survey. You can see if you are in a high-risk area or if your neighbors have reported a sinkhole. Also look around your home and yard for any cracks or holes.