One night in February, 2013, after Jeff Bush had gone to bed, a sinkhole opened up under his bed. The rest of his family was preparing to go to sleep when they heard what sounded like a car crashing into their house. Jeff’s brother, Jeremy, raced to Jeff’s room after hearing him call out, but all he found was a hole that had swallowed Jeff’s bed, his dresser and his TV. Only the cable wire dangled from the wall into the darkness.
Sinkholes are nature’s dirtiest trick. It takes the ground beneath our feet and pulls it out from under us so that we can fully inspect the horrifying void while simultaneously falling into it. Sinkholes are also sneaky. They usually develop under the earth silently for years and years until the ground above can no longer support itself, and whatever unlucky thing that is unknowingly sitting on top is rudely dropped into an abyss.
Sinkholes often form where rock such as limestone is in abundance, as this rock dissolves in water over time. In states like Florida (which is built on limestone with a veneer of clay on top), sinkholes are so ubiquitous that insurance companies are required to provide homeowners insurance coverage that includes damage from “catastrophic ground cover collapse.”
Catastrophic ground cover collapse is one of the things I like to think about when I go to sleep at night.