We have been seeing a lot of water main breaks
Sink holes. What causes them? How does water affect them? What to do when one opens up near you? Is it covered by insurance?
Florida is not the only area that can experience a sink hole. To better understand how and why they happen a little geology lesson is needed.
What causes them?
Bedrock that has a lot of limestone, carbonate rock or salt deposits will be more likely to erode. Resulting in holes that can no longer support the ground above it. Sink holes can also develop if an object such as a building is built on soil it too soft to support the weight.
How does water affect them?
The cause of this erosion is from water. As water passes through the top layers of soil, plants, roots and decaying materials making the water more acidic. As more material is eroded out of the rock the hole becomes larger eventually too large to sustain the earth that remains above it. These holes can open on a street, under a building, or on the edge of a cliff.
What to do if a sinkhole opens on your property?
Vacate your home or office immediately. Contact emergency professionals to have the area roped off. Reach out to your insurance company to have them send out an adjuster to make an initial assessment. Sinkholes NEVER get better. You will have to work with engineers to decide on the proper course of action. Getting someone to come out and take soil samples every 5 ft will provide a good picture of what is going on. Note this testing can take 3-5 weeks and may require payment from you. It is not cheap with average cost running $4,000-$8,000. Also know many insurance companies do not cover sinkhole damage unless you have separate insurance similar to flood insurance. Know what your policy covers if you think you are in a high-risk area.
As more and more flooding events occur these events will increase. As aging pipes fail and water is forced out into these already susceptible areas washing out the support materials even faster that normal.
There are 3 different kinds of sink holes cover collapses sink holes, cover substance & solution sink holes. They also have two ways they are created naturally and manmade. There is nothing that can be done about the naturally occurring ones. The man-made ones that is a whole different story.
The man-made ones stem from pipes underground breaking and washing away the soil they are sitting in. In turn they are compromising the materials above them. While natural sink holes have the same risks and cause the same problems. Maintaining pipes and catching small leaks before they become big problems is essential to reducing the damage that they can cause.
Watermain breaks and sewer systems that are overloaded. are a contributing factor to sink hole development. When the pipe breaks the water will find a way to go somewhere. The force pushing the water through those pipes is immense and will continue to push water through if it is broken or not. Water will expand out from the break forcing the earth away as well.
Sewer systems that become overloaded will force water out of a controlled pipe system onto the streets, sidewalks, front yards allowing it to get into a lot of developed ground that has been leveled with sand allowing it to wash away.
Which is why it is essential to never drive through a flooded area. You can not see if a sink hole has been created. Water is level with the surface that it sits on. This water is always muddy and the bottom where the ground is can never been properly assessed. These sink holes can be a few feet or upwards or 50ft or more. They can also release a lot of toxic fumes contaminating the water. Please stay out of the waters and wait, go around and seek alternate route.
Treating a flooded road or area the same as if there was a storm event is essential for your safety. Only 6inches of moving water can knock someone off their feet. If you are off balance and fall into contaminated water, you should seek medical attention and rinse the water off immediately. Taking a sample of the water to the doctors office can help them assess your real risk. Toxic chemical, bacteria, and virus thrive in water and can be ingested if you are yelling for help or over exerted and are breathing through your mouth. Allowing that bacteria to enter your digestive system and or your lungs.
It is better to just be smart and stay out of the area. Do not drive around barriers. Do not walk through the flooded water if you can avoid it. Do not drive your car through these roads or flooded our areas. Again it is impossible to know how deep they are.
Remember get out of immediate danger, call authorities, and DO NOT DRIVE OR WALK through flood waters.
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