Florida Sinkhole Reappears after Rain

March 17, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
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Sinkhole that formed was 520 feet long, 125 feet wide, and 60 feet deep. Bartow, Polk County, Fla. May 22, 1967. (Photo courtesy of USGS)

A 20-foot sinkhole in Clermont, Fla., opened up this Monday between two homes, and the recent heavy rains could be to blame.

In 2001, a sinkhole appeared in the same spot and was filled with cement. It has now reopened and is causing some concern.

According to the USGS, a sinkhole is a depression in the surface of the Earth caused by the collapse of soil due to the dissolving of the underlying limestone. The weather can play a role in their formation.

On Thursday, March 11, South Lake County received rainfall totalling as high as 5.19 inches.

"The heavy rains in that area saturated the ground and that definitely influences whether a sinkhole will form," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mike Pigott.

The two homes on either side of the sinkhole have not seen any damage, yet.

Florida law requires homeowners insurance to cover damages caused by sinkholes, according to Tampa attorneys at Hancock & Hancock.

Florida insurance currently pays up to 100 percent for damages caused by scientifically proven sinkholes.

Unfortunately, this may not last too much longer. Florida State Representative Bryan Nelson just proposed a bill called the Comprehensive Insurance Fraud Investigation and Prevention Act of 2010. In this bill, it would change sinkhole coverage to only 25 percent, said a report by Florida's wftv.com.

His purpose is to limit insurance fraud, but this could leave many Floridians with sinkhole damages they will not be able to repair.

For example, if your insurance covers $100,000 now, with the new bill you will receive only $25,000 no matter how bad the damages to your home are.

Sinkholes are a common occurrence in Florida during the spring. The proposed new bill could be just as detrimental as a huge hole in the ground.


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