Tag Archives: Hillsborough County

Sinkhole Damage Grants

County commissioners in Hillsborough County recently voted to provide grants for Hillsborough County residents who were affected by sinkhole activity during the winter freeze of this past year. The grants may be worth up to $3,000 per individual homeowner. Though the sinkhole grant program is aimed at the freeze event causing sinkhole activity in Dover and Plant City, the money will be available to any county resident who had sinkhole damage in those specified months, as long as they prove the sinkhole opened during that time and provide a repair estimate from a licensed contractor.

Hillsborough County Sinkhole Grant Budget

Hillsborough County intends on budgeting $500,000 for the grants and once that money is paid out, the grants will no longer be available so homeowners are encouraged to keep close tabs on this program and apply as soon as it becomes officially available. As we all know, $3,000 is little conciliation for a homeowner who has suffered sinkhole damage.

Generally, sinkhole repairs will cost between $30,000 and $300,000 so this grant will do little to help homeowners repair the damage, but every little bit helps considering insurance benefits rarely take loss of value of the home, increased insurance premiums or time missed from work when issuing benefits.

Apply Before the Budget Runs Out

If you are a homeowner in Hillsborough County and believe you meet the criteria to qualify, it would probably behoove you to get your engineering reports confirming sinkhole activity and contractor estimates to repair the above and below ground damage together now to better ensure you can get in before the budget runs out.

If you have a situation requiring legal representation for a sinkhole damage claim, contact Morgan Barfield at Barfield Law Group, 813-251-1285.

Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.

Water District Seeks to Limit Farmer Pumping During Freezes to Reduce Sinkhole Potential

Limiting farmers from pumping during freezes

The water district in Hillsborough is considering a limit on how much water strawberry farmers can pump during a freeze. This is a delicate issue – the farmers need to protect their crops, but the sea level needs to remain healthy.

This Plant City issue has been discussed more than once in news broadcasts but for the first time, a governmental agency is taking a real serious look at the problem and how to avoid it in the future, hopefully without harming the farmers’ crops, which affects both their ability to support their families and the availability of food for consumers.

The problem

Hundreds of homeowners faced residual issues with dry wells or activated sinkholes during the freezes of 2008-2010. The district and advisory board seem to want to walk the thin line between harming the local farming industry by taking away their ability to protect their crops and dealing with the resultant dry wells and sinkholes as they have for the past two winters.

The goal seems to be keeping the aquifer from dipping below 10 feet above sea level, which seems to be the magic number for causing dry wells and sinkholes from appearing.

Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly referred to as SWFTMD, believe that if the farmers had pumped approximately 20% less water this past freeze, the swarm of sinkholes could have been avoided.

Some reports some that the aquifer was pumped to 60 feet below sea level during this last freeze.

How will it be solved?

This brings about an interesting debate between protecting the farmers’ livelihood and preventing another massive sinkhole infestation. Often times, those in Plant City who have had their residences affected by sinkholes are farmers themselves or have friends or family that are farmers.

It will interesting to see where this story ends up but we will certainly stay on top of it and updated as the debate goes on.

Sinkhole Repairs Cost Hillsborough County Millions

Cold snap causes sinkholes

During the recent cold snap, Plant City and its surrounding area were hit with a rash of cover-collapse sinkholes. These were discovered not simply in the residential areas but also in the interstate infrastructure along the highways.

In some Hillsborough County areas, thousands of cubic yards of grout were installed beneath highways and other buildings to stabilize them.

How these sinkholes affect infrastructure

As reported in the Tampa Tribune, last year Hillsborough County was responsible for fixing a total of eight sinkholes for the year, while this year they have already remediated 12. This requires costly sinkhole repair methods and disrupts the county’s already overburdened highways.

As these events rarely happen in isolation, it would be reasonable to expect an increase in the number of confirmed sinkholes in the area. Therefore, nearby residents should keep their eye out for any changes in their home that mimic the symptoms of a sinkhole.

Signs to look for in your home

Be wary for signs that the ground underneath your home is shifting, causing a lack of balance in your foundation. This may appear as cracks in the wall shaped like a stairway, door frames that no longer hang straight, or any other peculiar cracks in the home.

Other signs can be observed outside, like new depressions in the ground, rainwater that remains above the ground, puddles, and even cracks in the ground around your home.

Finally, speak with your neighbors. Sinkholes often aren’t a one-time occurrence; when a sinkhole appears in a nearby home, it raises the chances of your home being affected. Therefore, keep an eye out for not only your home but the homes in your surrounding neighborhood, as well.