|What an incredibly beautiful happy graphic for such an horrific and frightening event. (Graphic from: www.swfwmd.state.fl.us )|
All over the world this week people heard about the extremely sad story of Jeffrey Bush. Mr. Bush, 37, was asleep in his bedroom, in a house he shared with his mother, his brother, the brother's girlfriend and children, and others. The house which ironically is located on 240 Faithway Drive, was built in the 1970s in Hillsborough County, Florida. With no warning, a loud sound occurred and the sleeping Mr. Bush and the contents of his entire room collapsed and fell into a newly opened sinkhole. His brother Jeremy entered the room at once and tried to save his brother, however the collapsing continued. Jeremy Bush was rescued by a very brave Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy. He was however, unable to rescue his brother Jeffrey.
In much of Florida, the ground is built upon caverns and caves. This is such a prevalent feature of the landscape that it has become impossible not to build in regions where this is a possibility. The best people can do is buy insurance and have their homes inspected periodically for signs of cracks and issues which indicate sink hole activity. In the case of the Bush Family, they had no prior cracks in their home and they had lived in this location from the time the house was built in the 1970s. This was truly an unexpected occurrence. It is possible that their entire neighborhood will need to be condemned, when it was apparently stable from the nineteen-seventies forward.
|This is a sinkhole in Ocala, Florida.|
Despite rapid work by the police and county hired engineers, using flexible sound and visual high tech next generation fiber-optics , no one has been able to locate Jeffrey Bush alive. They have detected no sounds within the huge chasm which has opened below the house and likely below the neighborhood as well. They also have stated that they will be unable to recover a body. A fairly recent inspection for potential sink hole activity, as is a requirement for homeowner's insurance was recently done on the Bush home. However, this time, no signs of impending collapse were seen by the inspector.
Sinkholes are not rare events in Florida, however the loss of a person in a house with no notice, is a rare event. Although we all know Florida for sinkhole potential, many other places around the world have such potential. The Yucatan Peninsula and Belize have this as a possibility. The Bahamas, New Zealand, China, Mexico, New Guinea, Venezuela. Within the US states, Louisiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, and Missouri have all experienced sinkholes. It is possible in states not mentioned. Even though Virginia does not appear in any of the references I have been reading, I am aware that following seismic or vibratory events, sinkholes have appeared, particularly on roadways and parking lots.
Sinkholes can be completely spontaneously occurring as limestone or other stones erode underground due to normal amounts of water, or they can occur the result of the intervention of human beings as we bury lines, and perhaps water seepage permits erosion of which we are unaware.
You should be alert to cracks in your drywall, your foundation, or aberrations in your well as potential indicators of abnormal subterranean erosion patterns. Usually such indicators are seen prior to a collapse event.
Unknown to us, our last farm was in an area of goldmines from the 1880s. We were out for a distant nature walk from the house one day and discovered the ground near us collapsing. It was only held up by large oaks and their root systems. We notified the US Department of Mines, and they excavated and capped off the old goldmines, at no charge to us. This was a very frightening time.
Our family's prayers go out to the Bush Family. May they feel the hand of God, the support of kind neighbors, and a compassionate and helpful local government as they try to move forward from this terrible tragic event.