We’ve all heard the stories and seen the pictures, but it’s really easy to compartmentalize and tell ourselves it could never happen to us. Fun fact: approximately 40% of the US lies in areas prone to sinkholes. If you live in the US, you might want to double check that your home isn’t lying on one as we speak. The most vulnerable states: Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.
I never knew how close to home a sinkhole could be, until I moved to Missouri. My parents bought enough land for a small farm near Nixa and were not notified about the sinkholes on their land by the realtor until it was time to sign the contract. Of course, they went ahead and bought it anyway, since the sinkhole was only on the edge of the property and not likely to do any damage to their home. That’s what they were told at least.
Some people though, have no clue they’re sitting on top of a giant sinkhole, and that their home is a ticking time bomb.
In 2013, a man in Florida died thanks to his home sitting directly on top of a sinkhole , his house was swallowed entirely by it while he was in bed. He was never seen again, but his brother, who lived nearby, had heard him scream when it went down.
In 2010, a massive sinkhole opened up in the middle of Guatemala City , resulting in the disappearance of a man on the scene.
In 2011, a sinkhole opened up on a highway 90 miles from Salt Lake City , a 15 year old girl passed away and her father was injured when the sinkhole opened up after a night of heavy rain.
These examples are just a few out of many, and they’re cause for concern for just about everyone from city planners, to architects, to inspectors, to homeowners, business owners, renters- everyone in at risk areas. Do everything you can to look into the background of a home before purchasing it, and check your local laws. Some cities do a better job at prevention through strict guidelines.
Sinkholes, which are usually formed due to soft, underground rock, can be worsened and grow in size due to terrible water and sewage systems in cities. Improper drainage can eventually result in water or chemicals (which effects sinkholes at an even quicker rate than water) eroding the soft rock walls of small sinkholes until they grow large in size. They can be hundreds of feet across and hundreds of feet deep!
Chemicals play a very dangerous part in this, and should be managed and handled with the utmost care. DO NOT POUR CHEMICALS INTO THE EARTH UNLESS THEY ARE ECO-FRIENDLY. Those chemicals will drain into the land in and around your home which not only can cause sinkholes to open up but poison the plant and animal life the chemicals come into contact with.
Be sure to check that your home isn’t at risk or worse, currently sitting on top of a deadly sinkhole. If your home was sold to you without knowledge of a current sinkhole, you should consider contacting an attorney who can help you right away.