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Expert weighs in on how rain impacts sinkholes in Florida

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 23:10:17-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Sinkholes can be as dramatic as one that can swallow a house or car. They can also be small like the one in Fort Myers that formed back in October.

The bigger ones are what stick with people in Cape Coral.

"All of a sudden there's a huge hole and everything is going down in it," Kristin Selway told 4 In Your Corner.

Selway was worried. Other Lee county residents have more of a take it as it comes attitude.

"I kind of want to see what happens. How big of a deal it is," Adrian Lubrun said. "Like do we have to move or can we stay here," he added.

4 In Your Corner took concerns about how rainy season impacts the development of sinkholes to a geologist at Florida Gulf Coast University.

"They can open up very quickly," Dr. Jamie MacDonald said. "The ones that swallow cars and houses are collapse sinkholes. People who live near them should be concerned," he added.

Florida is prone to them because of what the bedrock is made out of.

"Sinkholes can form anywhere in the state because of all the limestone," Dr. MacDonald said.

He says parts of that layer of limestone can collapse if there's not enough water pressure to keep it in tact.

The state monitors sinkholes of concern. Lee county has four of them geologists are concerned with. However, the number is dwarfed by the numbers in northern and central counties in Florida.

"Polk county as over a 150 sinkholes of concern," Dr. MacDonald said.

Standing water can sometimes cause the ground collapse, but it can also stabilize things.

"When there's more water in the ground, sinkholes are less common. However, when we head into the dry season, the water lowers and sinkholes become more common," Dr. MacDonald said.