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Sinkhole signs can be subtle

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Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 5:10 pm | Updated: 9:04 pm, Tue Feb 11, 2014.

SARASOTA--More than a day later and it's still terrifying to see: in just a matter of minutes an Orlando resort crashes into the ground, the victim of Florida's newest sinkhole.

"What happened in Orlando is a direct result of the geology of that particular area," said geologist David Brown.

And now many homeowners wonder could this happen to me?

"They are common to Florida, as far as statewide, but to Sarasota and Manateee counties, they're not very common." said Sarasota structural engineer Mark De Stefano.

Florida is the sinkhole capital of the country, but most of the problems happen north of the Suncoast.

But that doesn't mean our area is immune, and there are signs you should look out for.

"Typically if you have heavy duty cracking in the walls or a corner of the building starting to settle, usually you'll see a large hole or a radial hole around the house," said De Stefano.

Also watch out for doors that may suddenly stick, or windows that no longer open or close with ease. If you think you've got a problem, call in the experts.

"But you'll want to have a structural engineer come in and then they'll bring in soil design team and they determine what to do," said De Stefano.

Another concern for homeowners: insurance coverage. Under Florida law, all homeowner's insurance has built in coverage for what's known as "catastrophic ground cover collapse" but damage from a sinkhole may not be covered.

That's because Florida law defines a sinkhole as something different from a ground collapse. And it's up to owners to decide whether they want to purchase additional coverage for a sinkhole.

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