Sinkholes rattle residents of retirement haven in Central Florida

Miami /
Jun.June 03, 2018 08:00 AM

A sinkhole that opened up in February in the Village of Calumet Grove (Credit: Villages-News.com)

Central Florida sinkholes have stolen some of the serenity of living in The Villages, the world’s  largest community of retirees.

At least 32 sinkholes cracked open last year in The Villages, according to Villages-News, an independent news site, which reported at least 11 more in the first three months of 2018.

Sinkholes happen more often in Florida than in any other state, and The Villages is in the middle of the region of Florida at greatest risk, known as “Sinkhole Alley.”

A severe drought hit Central Florida in early 2017, followed by heavy rain from Hurricane Irma later in the year, which produced conditions optimal for sinkholes to open. Too much water or too little are the primary triggers for sinkholes.

Florida has a carbonate bedrock composed mostly of limestone. Rainwater easily dissolves limestone and turns acidic as it seeps through soil, creating a honeycomb type of terrain with cavities called “karst.” If a cavity becomes too large, its ceiling can collapse, cracking open a deep hole at the surface.

While weather conditions are triggers for sinkholes, real estate development is “the most persistent factor” in the increased frequency of sinkholes in Central Florida, Smithsonian.com reported.

George Veni, executive director of the National Cave and Karst Institute, conducted a field study of Sinkhole Alley, and he says preliminary research shows that sinkhole risk is 11 times greater in developed areas than in undeveloped areas.

The Villages, which has more than 125,000 residents, was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation from 2013 through 2016, and still ranks among the 10 fastest-growing metro areas.

The Villages is located mainly in Sumter County, which ranks 62nd in violent crime among Florida’s 67 counties.

The average age of Sumter County residents is 66.6 years, making it the oldest county in the United States.

Usually, sinkholes are just a manageable property-maintenance problem, but the outbreak in Central Florida has rattled many of the elderly residents of The Villages.

“Everybody is worried,” a resident of the Village of Calumet Grove told Smithsonian.com, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s not a good time to sell.”

State records show six deaths from sinkholes in Florida history, including the 2013 death of Jeffrey Bush, who sleeping in his bedroom before a sinkhole dropped him 20 feet below ground. His body never was recovered. [SmithsonianMag.com] – Mike Seemuth


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Rendering of Belmont Village Coral Gables and Baptist Health South Florida CEO Brian L. Keeley

Baptist, Belmont gain approval for luxury senior living in Coral Gables

Baptist, Belmont gain approval for luxury senior living in Coral Gables
9885 Palomino Drive (Credit: Google Maps)

Resort Lifestyle Communities scores $36M construction loan for Lake Worth senior housing project

Resort Lifestyle Communities scores $36M construction loan for Lake Worth senior housing project
5010 Nob Hill Road (Credit: Google Maps)

Sunrise affordable senior housing facility sells for $30M

Sunrise affordable senior housing facility sells for $30M
Mark Zilbert

Let’s make a deal? Some resi sellers in Miami-Dade slash asking prices

Let’s make a deal? Some resi sellers in Miami-Dade slash asking prices
(Credit: iStock)

Home sales dropped big time in South Florida in April

Home sales dropped big time in South Florida in April
 Rendering of Father Marquess-Barry Apartments with Matt Rieger

HTG scores financing for senior affordable housing in Overtown

HTG scores financing for senior affordable housing in Overtown
Renderings of different versions of the project with Matt Rieger

HTG plans 1,000-unit affordable housing complex in Miami’s Overtown

HTG plans 1,000-unit affordable housing complex in Miami’s Overtown
Pharrell Williams (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

South Florida by the numbers: Bright spots in a challenging market

South Florida by the numbers: Bright spots in a challenging market
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...