Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sinkholes occur in places other than Florida; government gets overzealous on small cash deposits from farmers and business owners

I have covered the unpredictable disasters homeowners and renters face, that can suddenly make them homeless.

In Leesburg, VA, there were news reports if a sinkhole said to jeopardize over 60 townhomes, and requiring extensive utility work.  I did travel to the location (along Battlefield Drive, off US 15, north of downtown), and it does appear that there is a marsh a few hundred feet East of the sink. There is a detailed story in Leesburg Today here.

 It appears to be considerably shallower than comparable sinkholes in Florida, where one particular sinkhole that had swallowed a home and a man in it has recurred (CNN story ).
While western Florida (the Gulf Coast north of Tampa) is the most notorious for sinkholes, about 40% if the US has some susceptibility, as shown in this map.  Sinkhole damage to homes (like earthquake) is covered only by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance only when there a specific rider, which some states (like Florida) require insurers to offer in some areas.
Some smaller sinkholes (such as some in Washington DC) seem to be related to water main breaks.

Near (a few hundred feet to the north, across the drive) the sinkhole site there is a strip mall, with a retail outlet run by Habitat for Humanity.  I had not been aware that the charity does run some stores. 

There is another property-related story, about a dairy farmer in Middletown, MD (between Frederick and Hagerstown) who found that the federal government had seized $65000 from his bank account after he made numerous deposits under $10000 each.  The law apparently does not require the government to show probable cause that crime is being committed (small deposits inspire suspicion of “laundering” to avoid reporting – in this case the farmer’s bank had said this was OK).  This reminds me of the civil asset forfeiture issue often criticized by libertarians, Baltimore Sun story here


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