Underground Florida: a "bunch of round lakes" - FOX 13 News

Underground Florida: a "bunch of round lakes"

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The tragedy in Seffner has homeowners wondering about their homes. Bay Area companies that perform sinkhole inspections and testing have noticed a rise in calls from concerned homeowners.

At a home in Spring Hill Monday, work crews from B.A.S.I.C. Engineering based in Tampa searched for signs of sinkholes. They used a drill rig to bore holes deep into the ground in four places. They kept drilling until they reached solid rock. The column of soil is collected and geologist Dave Hewitt analyzes it for evidence that a sinkhole could be hiding underground.

Here in Florida, that could very well be the case.

"If you look at an aerial map of Florida, down through the center of Florida, you see a bunch of round lakes," said Hewitt. "Most of them are probably old sinkholes."

MAP: Sinkhole zones, types in Florida (Source: Fla. Dept of Environmental Protection)

The homeowner in Spring Hill noticed a lot of cracks. Her concern has only grown since Jeff Bush was pulled into the ground by a massive sinkhole at his home in Seffner.

Sometimes, insurance covers this type of testing; otherwise, it can cost upwards of $8,000.

Hewitt says the findings are never 100 percent definitive, but rather an opinion. Four factors go into determining whether there's sinkhole activity: soil density, images from ground penetrating radar, distress to the home (like cracks) and the floor.

"If this corner is dropped say two inches from one corner of the room to the other, something's wrong," explained Hewitt. "It shouldn't slope over half an inch over 10 feet."

Hewitt says his crews will continue drilling at the home Tuesday and he will begin his analysis Wednesday.

Hillsborough County is part of sinkhole alley and 2/3 of sinkhole-related claims statewide are filed in the county.

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