Should I worry about sinkholes?

When you read about real estate in Florida, there are lots of things that make you well up in fear. Alligators, Bugs, Hurricanes, and Sinkholes, oh my!. One of the good things about the Sarasota/Bradenton Area is that you don’t have much to worry about. Below is a map of the sinkholes in Florida. Notice how few there are below Tampa. Feel better?

Regarding Hurricanes, Harold Bubil writes in the Bradenton Herald Tribune:

This concerns home buyers who might be considering a move to Florida, often to get away from weather extremes. They want to know if Sarasota gets a lot of hurricanes.

The answer: no. Only rarely has Sarasota County suffered a direct hit — and that last happened in 1944, when one hit Venice with 100 mph winds. Hurricane Charley brushed North Port. But the City of Sarasota has not had a direct hit in more than a century. This was verified by the Sarasota County History Center.

The definition of “direct hit” is important. To me, a direct hit is when the eye wall passes over your location. Charlotte County had a direct hit from Hurricane Charley in 2004. Charley produced only 60 mph winds in Sarasota-Manatee.

Others would say that if you feel hurricane-force winds, you were hit by a hurricane. That has happened on rare occasions. The famous Hurricane Donna of Sept. 11, 1960, produced winds of 90 to 100 mph in Sarasota County, but the eye made landfall at Naples and swept up the middle of the peninsula. Winds were 160 mph in the interior. Florida had just 3 million people then.

The website HurricaneCity. com tracks storm activity since 1871 and notes that the City of Sarasota has felt 32 tropical systems — coming within 60 miles — in 139 years through 2009. Some events are designated as “brushes,” others as tropical storms and still others as “back-door” events, meaning that the storm hit the Atlantic coast and swept across the state to the Sarasota-Bradenton region. The great hurricane of 1926, which devastated Miami and dealt the Roaring Twenties’ real estate boom its final death blow, was one such event. Damage here was a fraction of what it was in Dade County.

Alligators. Well, they are around. If there’s water in Florida, it is best to assume that it can have an alligator (unless it is your crystal clear pool.) Gator attacks are really rare, but here’s a website that gives some helpful hints on what to do in that unlikely event.