NASHVILLE, Tenn. – From a Clarksville highway earlier this week to a Franklin neighborhood last month, sinkholes seem to be popping up everywhere and keeping crews busy all over Middle Tennessee.
The U. S. Geological Survey estimates 35-40 percent of the United States is over evaporite rock, which is more prone to sinkholes.
“Two years ago I only looked at about 12 all year,” said Kenny Williams. “I’ve looked at 13 just in the last two weeks.”
Williams believes it has a lot do it with extreme weather.
State geologists believe people are paying more attention after a 20-foot sinkhole suddenly opened up in March, swallowing a Florida man and his entire bedroom while he was sleeping.
“Everybody that’s had some kind of a hole or depression they’re now calling. They want it checked out,” Williams said.
If left alone a sinkhole could eventually damage a house’s foundation even if it’s in the yard, but won’t likely swallow someone because of our region’s geology.
Both Florida and Tennessee are prone to sinkholes, but geologists said there is a difference. Florida’s soil is very sandy so sinkholes happen quickly and can be very deep. Tennessee’s soil has lots of clay meaning sinkholes are slow and shallow.
That’s why crews must battle nature to allow water to escape without opening up new entrances to caves and caverns feet below the surface.
“We’re going to make sure the water still gets to the cavern, but it doesn’t take any soil with it,” Williams said.
Tennessee is one of the only states that requires insurance companies to cover sinkhole damage, but it can often lead to lawsuits. You may already be covered, or need to purchase a separate policy.
The state’s Department of Commerce and Insurance offers Consumer Insurance Services (CIS) to answer questions about insurance terms and coverage. They can even mediate disputes and complaints between people and insurance companies for free. You can call CIS at 1-800-342-4029 or email at CIS.firstname.lastname@example.org.