It is not the first time that dreadful sinkholes have appeared in Florida, but in the case of a sinkhole from 2017, things were a little more newsworthy than usual. This is because the sinkhole formed in front of Mar-a-Lago, i.e., President Donald Trump’s private estate and golf club on Monday.
This sudden sinkhole appearance at Mar-a-Lago caused heavy traffic and fuss near the hotel for several hours as the press and authorities were eager to investigate and report it to the general public as soon as possible.
In return, the incident received a lot of criticism, and every individual had their version for the reason behind the sinkhole’s appearance.
According to official reports, the sinkhole measured 4-by-4 feet. Moreover, an authentic source, Palm Beach Travels, shared that the sinkhole appeared near a newly installed water supply which could be the sole reason, but there are many possibilities.
The occurrence of sinkholes in Florida is common and frequently reported by several weather channels. These channels have often declared these sinkholes a part of Florida’s landscape, comparing them to alligators and trees in the area.
President Donald Trump often refers to Mar-a-Lago state as the “winter White House.” This is because during the initial months in the office he frequently visited the golf club at Mar-a-Lago and also held meetings with recognized officials, such as the president of China, Xi Jinping, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
As soon as the authorities noticed the sinkhole, a repair crew was assigned to conduct an “exploratory dig” the same day to address the situation if any further enlargement took place. The area near it could immediately be evacuated. Moreover, according to the communications director for Palm Beach City, the initial possibility was that the sinkhole may not grow any further, but the uncertainty remained.
The reason is that Florida’s natural sinkholes seem to increase by the day and cannot be prevented 95% of the time, which is troubling for the concerned authorities.
Even Kathleen Walter after her first statement called another press meeting where she mentioned that her first statement had no certain evidence to prove that the sinkhole would not increase in size. But now, after going through all different theories, it’s has been decided to carry out further investigation. And hopefully, the authorities will have a supporting statement to release to the general public. All it requires is a little more time.
Soon after Kathleen’s statement went public, the Mar-a-Lago sinkhole took a literal toll on social media, especially Twitter. Twitter users were eager to joke about it. Others were interested in speculating and some wanted to blame Donald Trump because authorities were not able to find the fault in the area where it appeared.
Walter also made a statement where she supported the repair crew working on the water main near Mar-a-Lago and told the authorities that the crew was careful the entire time. It must have been any other repairing debacle that caused the sinkhole.
According to experts, the sinkhole had been preparing to sink for a long time now and the repair of the water main started two days before the sinkhole occurred. The only possibility left was the repair that might have caused the pressure for a sinkhole to appear early than it was meant to be.
What is the Reason behind Sinkholes in Florida?
Florida is popular and known for its hurricane and alligators, but it is probably about time that sinkholes were added to the list. This is because they are very common in the state. Common, and dangerous. In February 2018, multiple sinkholes even threatened two homes in the state.
According to insurance regulations and several local agencies, the number of sinkholes recorded in Florida tends to be higher – and frequently occur in clusters – than any other US state. In May, one such set of sinkholes occurred in Tarpon Springs, FL when a cluster of twenty opened up near the school’s culinary institute building.
Such frequent sinkhole appearances caused the weather community to call a meeting and find out immediate reasons behind this situation. The meeting mainly focused on the geology of Florida and required experts to be on the team. So, the Florida Geological Survey (FGS) was contacted for this job, and a team was appointed from the organization in order to put together a brief investigation.
After the investigation, a conclusion was reached. It was agreed that the entire Florida landscape was loaded with carbonate rocks. So, theoretically, every area present in the state could suffer from a sinkhole, in the distant future depending on a variety of landscape and weather changes.
But according to many official reports, some regions were at a higher risk than others. These regions were lands that had limestone embedded near the surface or regions that had limestone in the third layer beneath the land and the first layer filled with water. This layering caused the limestone to dissolve and erode faster to sink the land immediately.
Other than this, sinkholes can also occur due to certain human activity and natural phenomena. As Florida is also called a swampland, it experiences heavy rainfall throughout the year which causes the water level in the land to rise and erode the stones present beneath. This causes huge sinkholes in some regions of the state.
Moreover, the human activity responsible for sinkholes includes drilling/ digging or heavy pumping to irrigate agriculture fields through ground water which in return causes pressure on the rocks to the extent that they break into pieces or starts getting washed away with the groundwater. Either way, it causes sinkholes.
Sinkholes, a Nightmare for Many in Florida
The term nightmare can mean the loss of money and life. Indeed, losing a property to a sinkhole is a concern for many property owners in Florida, but a bigger concern is loss of life. Both of these ideas are disastrous and eye awakening in their own way.
Across Florida’s entire history, only around six deaths were recorded in Florida due to sinkholes. One of which was Jeffrey Bush, who was sleeping while the surface beneath his bed sank 20 feet below the ground in 2013. Sadly, his body was never recovered from the sinkhole.
This incident left everyone horrified in Florida for the longest time; some people could not sleep all night fearing a sinkhole would swallow them deep in the ground too.
Similarly, between 2016 and 2017, after heavy rainfall, 32 sinkholes were reported in The Villages, a retirement community in Sumter County, Florida known for having one of the lowest crime rates in the state. It’s also located in one of the safest areas in Florida during hurricane season.
Unfortunately, the area is one that became known for its sudden sinkholes and the fear they put into The Village’s residents.
While no deaths or serious injuries were reported from this series of unfortunate sinkholes that tore through the quiet and idyllic village,
Sinkholes are a great issue in Florida, and the worst part is that they grow with time. You’re lucky if a small sinkhole appears near you, as it gives you a chance to run far away from it. Otherwise, fast moving and large sinkholes can swallow massive amounts of a property quicker than unsuspecting residents can prepare for.
How to Avoid Sinkholes?
Once sinkholes occur, there’s usually no way their growth can be stopped. But sinkhole formation can be predicted through NASA’s innovation which is a sensor remote known as InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar). This remote senses any formation of sinkhole through the use of satellite and drones and keeps track of the level of the ground after every 6 hours.
So, in case of elevation, the authority would know which region in the state can experience a sinkhole anytime soon. It’s like a constant ultrasound of the landscape that has the potential to suffer from a sinkhole now and then.
“The InSAR remote basically compares all the repeated radar observations in order to measure the subtle changes in the surface of the earth”, according to Ronald Blom, an expert geologist, “before any sinkhole occurs it tends to show certain land deformation and if these deformations can be recorded it will be easier for authorizes to compare the same patterns with the landscape they are inspecting.” Thus, any risk of a sudden collapse of land can be prevented instantly.
Mar-a-Lago sinkhole was not out of the norm for Florida. Florida faces dozens of sinkholes every year, due to heavy rain, manual work or elevation in the water levels beneath the surface.
The most likely cause of this sinkhole was probably linked with the repair of a water main in the street across from Mar-a-Lago, something which might have elevated the water levels. Additionally, the heavy machinery used would have put pressure on the rocks, causing them to dissolve and erode.
So, it wasn’t any curse of the orb or President Trump’s bad luck or any of the other silly comments made across social media in response to the breaking news. Sinkholes are a norm in a region like Florida due to its landscape. It consists of rocks, like limestone and carbonate, which tend to erode faster while transferring the energy to other rocks. This indirectly causes the sinkholes to increase in size by the day.
Moreover, the sinkhole that appeared outside wasn’t as big as it was presumed. Plus the authorities took immediate actions to prevent the sinkhole from growing any further and also asked the surrounding press and individuals to be careful.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Mar-a-Lago sinkhole was just like any other sinkhole that Florida has been experiencing over the state’s existence. While the manual labor in front of the property might be slightly responsible for it, the major reason is the kind of rocks embedded throughout Florida and the pattern of drought and rain that had hit the state just prior – a patter than replays every year. So, whether the repairs were outside Trump’s or anyone else’s usual residence, it’s possible that a huge or small sinkhole would have appeared.
It’s important for people living in Florida to contact sinkhole experts regularly and get the landscape around their property fully examined via sensors. This will ensure there is no risk of sinkholes in the area and minimize the potential for catastrophic loss of life or property.
If you suspect that your Florida home is impacted by a sinkhole and you suspect that your home insurance won’t cover the damage, contact Bulldog Adjusters today for a free inspection of your damage!