JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Preventing a sinkhole disaster could be as simple as checking your water bill. Local geologists at Jacksonville University say unusually high prices could suggest water escaping into an empty cavity under your home; a possible sinkhole.
"Pipes leaking under your house and water disappearing, that's another sign that there's at least something missing under your house. There's not settlement there," said JU Geologist Jeremy Stalker.
Multiple cracks in your floors, sidewalks or foundation could also be telling, as they were in a home on Gullege Drive.
"They told me that the house had underground holes that couldn't be fixed and they had to move out," said neighbor Richard Blount.
Fortunately geologists say that sinkholes in the Jacksonville area form more slowly and aren't as serious as ones found further south, giving us more time to notice the warning signs.
"These things usually don't happen instantly," said Stalker.
But in case things do happen quickly, sinkhole insurance is critical.
"By law in Florida virtually every home owners insurance policy will provide coverage for sinkhole loss," said insurance attorney Clark Hamilton.
Insurance attorneys say the only way you won't be covered is if you opt out of sinkhole insurance, which is strongly discouraged in the state that has more sinkholes than any other in the nation.
"It's part of the package and you ought to have it," said Hamilton.