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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sinkholes, a Sign of the Times


Sinkholes, a sign of the times ... by gimleteye

The Miami Herald and other state newspapers continue to report on $2 billion in property losses from sinkholes in Florida-- without even a whisp of information connecting this property destroyer with the destruction of Florida's aquifers, enabled by withdrawals authorized by the state's water management districts.

EOM posted on this topic, two months ago. Not a word about how Florida has emptied out its drinking water aquifers to support growth-at-any-cost. Like emptying out your bank account but expecting to live on interest. On my regular dog walking route, there is an expanse of parkland where a sinkhole has been developing.

You wouldn't need a gimlet eye if you lived in Pasco and Hillsborough counties where the underlying soil is sandy and prone to collapse and where attorneys advertise on billboards for sinkhole litigation and insurance claims. Fault belongs with the state's water management districts, and eventually the insurance companies will go after them. Sinkholes are also a metaphor for the chop shop ethos that encouraged the conversion of Florida's open space, farmland, and natural resources into a hodge-podge of suburban sprawl, ghost suburbs, and a massive oversupply of foreclosures. No one went to jail, but they should have. As a nation, we've spent down our capital, the dollar is teetering on worthlessness, and if Florida's dimmed star fell into a sinkhole, you couldn't claim to be surprised.

Posted on Wed, Nov. 10, 2010
Claims for sinkhole damages climbing fast in state

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Florida homeowners are filing damage claims from sinkholes at a rapidly growing rate with claims this year totaling one-third more than the previous four years combined.
State Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty briefed Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet on the trend Tuesday. He said the payout figure for this year could exceed $2 billion.

McCarty attributed the trend in part to the role of public adjusters, who file claims on behalf of homeowners and receive commissions on claims paid.

``Public adjusters in many cases play a valuable service, particularly when a company has been nonresponsive,'' McCarty told reporters. ``But what we're seeing is a proliferation of cases where cracks in the pavement or cracks in the stairwells that are a result of settlement, and it's costing billions of dollars in claims.''

Over the past four years, total sinkhole costs amounted to $1.4 billion, making sinkhole claims a primary reason for escalating insurance rates.

Pasco and Hernando counties remain far and away the top two counties in sinkhole claims, accounting for half of all claims statewide between 2006 and 2009. Hillsborough accounted for 16.3 percent of all claims during that period and Pinellas 6.3 percent. Hillsborough this year accounts for 23 percent of all claims filed.

Sinkhole claims from Miami-Dade and Broward counties also have spiked. So far in 2010, Miami-Dade has accounted for 137 claims compared to 261 over the previous four years, and Broward reported 149 claims this year compared to 252 for the previous four years.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.

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Geniusofdespair said...

On the same page in the print Herald of the sinkhole article is a big headline: Slide in S. Florida Home Prices Continues.

Anonymous said...

Yes we are winning the race to the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Poor florida, I can remember lots of open spaces and beautiful beaches when I was a child, but not anymore. Now it's all about the money.

Jill said...

This year we had 30 cement truckloads of slurry and more than 4 thousand pounds of expanding urethane pumped under our house to stabilize a sinkhole and I suspect we are still sinking.

If you don't think it can happen to you, think again.

Anonymous said...

Do they need fill up there. We have lots of people in the Redland area who are willing to sell it to them. Oh, wait, they aren't suppose to sell that fill are they? Never mind.


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