Requests for sinkhole inspections and repair are up in the Bay area with homeowners on edge in the wake of the Seffner tragedy.
Engineering firms and sinkhole repair companies say calls have been pouring in from nervous homeowners with questions about whether they might have a sinkhole, when they can get a sinkhole repaired - and how it all works.
If you call your insurance company with concerns, they'll likely send out an engineer to your property.
Engineers like Darrell Hanecki of Hanecki Consulting Engineers, Inc. in Tampa have been extra busy.
"There's just a lot of public alarm," said Hanecki. "A lot of phone calls we're getting now are people just calling for information, ‘I have cracks in my wall, should I be concerned?’”
Hanecki can answer the questions but it's not always an easy process. Getting a look at the house and doing some initial testing helps him determine if there should be a full sinkhole investigation.
That includes using radar to look into the ground.
"It's kind of like an ultrasound would work in medicine," he said.
He said the most important part is soil testing. They're looking at the pressure while drilling down, and the type of soil they're bringing up. Looking at what the soil is like, two feet at a time, they can rule out other factors that could be causing structural problems, such as a home built on organic soil. The tests could also help conclude the existence of a sinkhole.
If there is a sinkhole, that's where the repair companies come in. L.R.E. Ground Services has also been flooded with phone calls.
"Whether they were in the process of a sinkhole repair or claim, or people who had never even thought if a sinkhole what they saw on the news transpired," said Jim Flynn, marketing manager of L.R.E. "Needless to say a lot of concerned people out there.”
L.R.E. crews worked on a sinkhole underneath a home in New Port Richey this week. It's just one of the sinkholes they're taking care of.
"We're compacting the soil and sands that are loose and capping off the limestone, and doing it under a lot of high pressure," said Flynn.
It's repair work many Bay area residents have decided they want done sooner rather than later.
Both experts say what happened in Seffner is the exception not the norm but it's important to be attentive and also talk to your neighbors to see if they're experiencing any problems as well.