From time to time I would hear of sinkholes opening up and swallowing a car or a tractor or even a house. It was disturbing but not alarming because it always showed the people escaping.
Not so anymore. Over this past year, I have heard about more sinkholes than in all the years put together, the latest one being the one in Tampa, Florida.
A man was asleep in his bedroom and all of a sudden, there was a loud boom and then the floor of his bedroom caved in and a sinkhole swallowed him up. The other occupants of the house escaped but not this man.
There were pictures of the house taken after the man disappeared into the sinkhole and it was undamaged. There were no exterior cracks, no landscaping looked uneven or crooked, nothing that could be seen with the naked eye to alert its occupants that devastation was about to occur.
The sinkhole opened up so quickly and got so wide and so deep in the blink of an eye, that there was no time for the man to get out of bed and run out of the house. Photos of the sinkhole showed his mattress sticking up on its side from the huge hole in the floor.
What is even more alarming is that the house passed an inspection just six months ago. The exterior of the house looked no different from the other houses on either side of it. In fact, all the houses in the neighborhood looked whole and healthy.
And now we find out that there are thousands of these sinkholes opening up every year and that this is far from a rare occurrence. We even find out that they are not only in every state in this country but they are all over the world.
The next time we hear about “fracking,” a hydraulic fracturing of shale rock requiring drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure to release the natural gas inside, think about what this is doing to the earth and how it might be hastening up the development of sinkholes near where you live.
We probably won’t have to worry about wars coming to our shores or aliens from outer space invading our planet. At the rate we’re going, we’ll be lucky if we can live out our lives without being at the bottom of a sinkhole.