Sinkholes in Central Florida are more common than most people think, according to scientists and sinkhole experts.
Even Downtown Orlando's landmark Lake Eola started as a sinkhole, and most of the lakes in Central Florida were at one point sinkholes too.
Stephanie Kazmierzak-Esler with the Orlando Science Center says sinkholes are common because of the aquifer network underneath much of the land in Central Florida. When water causes the limestone under the ground to decay it collapses, which causes the ground to sink in on top of the depression.
LRE Ground Services works to repair sinkholes and marketing manager Jim Flynn says there are tests engineers can do to determine if an area is prone to sinkholes, but they are costly. Flynn says builders are required to do some testing, but much of it doesn't test far enough underground to reveal possible problems.
According to Flynn those tests can run between $5,000 to $12,000. He says if a homeowner is worried about a possible sinkhole at their home, he or she should look for cracking in walls or floors, separations between walls and the roof and driveway cracks.
If reaching out to an engineering company becomes too expensive, Flynn suggests monitoring the cracks to make sure they're not getting bigger before calling a company for help.
Flynn says sinkholes that cause catastrophic damage, like the one east of Tampa which swallowed a man overnight Thursday, are extremely rare.