60-foot Sinkhole Swallows Villa in Florida
Just last week, a portion of a villa in the central Florida resort community of Summer Bay unexpectedly, and quickly, collapsed into a 60-foot sinkhole – thus becoming the latest victim of Florida questionable geological landscape. Thankfully, however, no one was injured following the development of this sinkhole as security and emergency personnel were able to evacuate guests in time.
Specifically, around 11 p.m. last Sunday one of the guests in the villa’s 24 units contacted a security guard regarding a window in her unit that had mysteriously broke. Then, according to a statement to the New York Times by the resort’s president Paul Caldwell, several more windows began to break as the guard spoke with the guest.
The security guard then began evacuating the villa immediately, which was continued by emergency personnel as they arrived. Fortunately, these quick acts paid off as no one suffered any injuries even though the central portion of the building was swallowed up by the Florida sinkhole within a single hour, according to Caldwell. In addition, Caldwell believes the entire building will likely be considered a loss following this incident.
Prevalence of Florida sinkholes
Sadly, the location and development of this sinkhole is no surprise to experts. In fact, Randall Orndorff of the United States Geological Survey recently told the New York Times that the area of central Florida located between Tampa and Orlando is generally referred to as “sinkhole alley.” Since spring alone, four other sinkholes have been reported in this area.
According to Orndorff, the continued development of land within sinkhole alley may be exacerbating the problem. For instance, as developers build houses and roads, rainwater is diverted to ditches and storm drains instead of simply soaking into the ground. This, Orndorff claims, creates a situation in which the water goes underground in a “torrent,” which cuts holes and channels in the porous Florida limestone, and thus creates sinkholes. Over the years, sinkhole alley has claimed many buildings, including several homes.
Sinkhole insurance claims
Unfortunately, the discovery of sinkhole damage to a home is often just the beginning or problems for many Florida homeowners. For instance, not only must the homeowner cope with the difficult task of repairing or rebuilding, but in many situations the homeowner must also endure the frustrating task of dealing with insurance providers and denied insurance claims.
However, even in circumstances in which insurance companies acknowledge sinkhole damage, they will often attempt to only pay for cosmetic repairs as they obviously want to settle the claim for as little as possible. For example, insurers will offer to simply repaint cracks or fill in holes instead of addressing the underlying issue of fixing the sinkhole. If a homeowner agrees to these cosmetic repairs, it may end up costing him or her much more in the long run.
If you are a Florida homeowner whose home has suffered sinkhole damage, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experience sinkhole damage attorney before settling with your insurance company. A skilled attorney can assist is assessing your insurance claim and help ensure your claim is paid in full.