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Sinkholes appear in Gainesville, Ocala, even the White House: What to look for

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After weeks of a dry spell and now days of downpours in North Central Florida, sinkholes are tearing open in the area. Local geologists say it’s important to look for signs of a sinkhole around your home this time of year.

“The biggest thing is look for distress to your house stair step cracks, cracking near your doorways, windows, points of weakness in the structure may show some movement, obviously if the ground itself feels unlevel,” said Jim Olson, the director of geology at Geohazards.

This is especially important to be aware of if you are buying a house.

When homes are built, it is not required by law to have the ground tested for sinkholes.

“Realistically, the developers don’t necessarily want to know if there is sinkhole activity because they may lose the value of their investment, so they don’t want to push too far into finding that out,” Olson said.

The underground cavities may lie isolated for thousands of years, until the saturated soil migrates down to fill them

The sediment of the surface becomes less dense, weaker and before you know it, it collapses.

“The Villages, Gainesville, and Ocala all have this certain geology in the aspects of that way, making them susceptible to sinkholes,” Olson said.

Olson said to be cautious with any sinkhole—regardless of it’s size. It’s hard to see on the surface if a smaller sinkhole is the tip of an iceberg, where you’re seeing a small expression of it, with a much larger cavity underneath.

“You don’t want to go jumping on it, probing it, because it might collapse and take more soil with it,” Olson said. “It’s always best to have a trained professional go out there and assess the conditions to make sure everything is safe for you.”

Sinkholes aren't exclusive to the south, one was discovered on the White House lawn today. Parks officials say they don't expect it to impact the White House.

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