Are sinkholes a threat in Southwest Florida?

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 18:53:18-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla.,  - Officials in Central Florida say a large sinkhole that swallowed two homes early Friday is still active and neighboring homes remain evacuated as a precaution.

The event is now raising concerns that something like that could happen in Southwest Florida.

Friday afternoon, the sinkhole was estimated to be 200 feet wide and 50 feet deep and may still be growing.

"The thing that's amazing is the rate that it keeps growing. It's gotten bigger and bigger over a very short period of time," said Dr. Jamie MacDonald, an associate professor of Geology at Florida Gulf Coast University.

MacDonald says sinkholes are common in Florida because of the consistent limestone bedrock across the state.

However, MacDonald says because the limestone in Southwest Florida has more impure characteristics, sinkholes are not as common or severe as those in central Florida, where the region is known as "Sinkhole Alley."

"We're fortunate we live in a part of the state that sinkholes exist and we have to be concerned about them but they're not as dangerous as the one in Land O' Lakes that occurred today," MacDonald said.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection advises that if you believe a sinkhole is threatening your home, you should contact your insurance company.