In early January of this year, Florida experienced some unusually cold temperatures that forced Plant City area strawberry farmers to pump extra groundwater to try to protect their crops. Over the course of about 11 days, the groundwater table in areas of Plant City was lowered by as much as 60-ft.
Almost immediately as many as 80 sinkholes began opening up around that region. Including ones that jeopardized a 500,000-gallon water tower, several that shut down an elementary school and numerous ones that shut down roads and highways and affected individual property owners. Around 20 local homeowners were left homeless after sinkholes left their house uninhabitable. For comparison, based on data from Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Sinkhole Database for the period of 1998 to 2008 (the last year for which data is available), 77 sinkholes were reported to have opened up in Polk, Pasco and Hillsborough counties combined.
Local officials are seeking help from the State and FEMA to cover the estimated $3 million in damages. That figure is double what Plant City received from FEMA for the particularly bad 2004 hurricane season. And that dollar amount does not include what individual homeowners and property owners will be seeking from their insurance carriers. (Photos by Tampa Bay Online)
Read on for maps of Plant City sinkhole locations and more information.