TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A family was evacuated from their home in Tampa after the floor in one room shifted, and firefighters are planning to return to the home Tuesday to try and determine if a sinkhole is causing the problem.
Tampa police officers arrived at the scene late Monday but couldn't confirm that the shifting was caused by a sinkhole. But officers noted the floor had shifted.
The Tampa Tribune (http://bit.ly/1c6zN9o) reports that the home's residents told investigators that nine months ago a home insurance assessor told them that they had a sinkhole under the property, Tampa Police Lt. Richard O'Connor said.
The residents told police an insurance assessor told them nine months ago that a sinkhole is under their property on Sligh Avenue, north of the city's downtown.
From outside the home it was hard to tell whether there was a sinkhole.
The family has lived in the home for about three years, officials said.
The Red Cross is assisting the family. It has placed them in a hotel for two days and is helping with food and clothing.
"They can't get back in their house," said Janet McGuire, spokeswoman for the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The family will meet with caseworkers Tuesday to learn other ways they can be helped, McGuire said.
Earlier this month sinkhole opened under a house in Pinellas County.
Sinkholes are common in Florida. Thousands of sinkholes erupt in Florida each year due to the state's unique geology — limestone and dolomite are underneath the earth's surface in some areas and can be worn away by water and chemicals, then collapse.
Most sinkholes are small and few affect homes. An entire cottage industry of sinkhole remediation and home repair has sprung up in many parts of West Central Florida; when a sinkhole threat has been established, crews can pump a thick grout — a mixture of sand and cement — into the ground to fill the holes. It is a costly process, though it is typically paid by insurance companies, and can save a home from being destroyed.
It is extremely uncommon for sinkholes to kill people, but in February, a sinkhole opened up underneath a Hillsborough County home and sucked a man into the ground. His body was never recovered.
Information from: The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com