County and news media digging deeper on Shiloh sinkhole story

Will nearby buildings fall into this 120-foot sinkhole? Will Shiloh Road have to be moved like Snake Nation Road was? What about sinkhole insurance? If there are “fault lines” causing sinkholes heading westwards in Lowndes County, wouldn’t they cross the proposed path of the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline? What will Lowndes County do if that thing goes in and a sinkhole opens under it? What if Sabal Trail declares such a sinkhole force majeure and doesn’t pay?

More on the usual detour on Shiloh Road. Joe Adgie, VDT, 6 August 2015, Sinkhole threat to Shiloh Road,

“The engineering staff will have to wait for there to be a period of inactivity,” said Lowndes County Clerk Paige Dukes. “We’ll bring in geologists to do sonar on the roadway and the right-of-way next to the roadway to make sure the road bed is not affected before we can reopen.”

Maybe that LiDAR Valdosta is organizing could be useful. Hm, maybe the county should be more proactive about that.

Dukes said the activity of the sinkhole is ongoing and must be watched.

What about the one under a garage that Lowndes County paid no attention to back in 2012? Has anybody been following that one?

“None of the structures right now seem to be close enough to the activity for there to be a problem,” Dukes said. “Right now, it looks like the activity is moving closer to the road, versus any homes.”

The story later mentions the sinkhole under Snake Nation Road that the county initially tried to fill in, then had to pay extra for a change order to reroute the road to the tune of about half a million dollars total, if I remember correctly.

Dukes said county officials are concerned about the sinkhole, as no insurance is available to protect against sinkholes.

She asserted that opinion as fact, but Home Insurance Georgia says otherwise:

Be proactive. All Georgia homeowners should review their insurance policy to make sure their coverage is adequate. If you are not sure then call your local insurance agent.

You might be surprised to learn that most standard Georgia policies do not cover them.

Because of the difference in definition between a sinkhole and catastrophic ground cover collapse, you could technically have a sinkhole in your home and not be covered by your homeowner’s policy.

Locally, I just confirmed that Farm Bureau has a new homeowner policy that has an option to cover sinkholes.

So “no insurance is available to protect against sinkholes” is right up there with “Georgia law prevents County governments from using property tax dollars to pay for waste services” and trash dumping will be vigorously prosecuted.

Oh, and Home Insurance Georgia cites as example that same Lowndes County garage sinkhole. Lowndes County, famous for sinkholes!

The more sinkholes that occur here without proactive measures taken by local governments, the more notorious Lowndes County will be.

Sorry, did I say “will be”? More like is already notorious.

Winnie Wright, WCTV, 5 August 2015, 150-Foot Sinkhole Opens in Lowndes County Residential Area,

Winnie Wright is familiar with Lowndes County sinkholes; she reported from Cherry Creek Sink 26 November 2014 about the Sabal Trail pipeline on the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen 2014. That’s on the same Lowndes County-owned property with Shadrick Sink, which leaks into the aquifer, causing Valdosta years ago to have to sink its water wells twice as deep to get under that Withlacoochee River water. Shadrick Sink featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s reporting about Sabal Trail.

Colter Anstaett, WALB, 5 August 2015, Sinkhole causes road closure in Lowndes County,

LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) – It was hard to see from the road, but Wednesday the spot where a pond used to be in the front yard of the home on Shiloh Rd. between Parker Rd. and Hall Webb Rd. was a growing sinkhole about 160 ft. across and nearly as deep….

A resident who lives near the sinkhole but didn’t want to go on camera said around five o’ clock Tuesday evening she heard what sounded like gunshots off and on for about 30 minutes.

What she was hearing was the cypress trees popping and cracking as they shifted as the ground beneath them eroded away.

The WALB story was picked up by WTVM (Columbus, GA), WTOC (Savannah, GA). A similar story appeared in Valdosta Today.

Elizabeth Santoro, WTXL (Tallahassee, FL), 5 August 2015, Lowndes County Road Remains Closed From Sinkhole,

While local governments cannot legally expend resources on private property, Dukes says sinkholes should be reported to the Lowndes County Engineering Department, 229-671-2424, during normal business hours or by dialing 911 in the event of an after hours emergency. Lowndes County Engineering can provide information related to soil conditions in Lowndes County. For more information on sinkholes, please visit

Will Lowndes County now finally do something to help Michael McCormick with that sinkhole under his garage? He already had VSU professors come out and do ground scans, so there’s no doubt it’s under there.

And this “fault line” the county clerk mentioned: Yes, McCormick’s property on Norman Hall Road, the Cherry Creek and Shadrick Sinks on the Withlacoochee River, Shiloh Road, and Snake Nation Road are all more or less in a line east to west.

But that’s not the only crack in the fragile karst limestone containing our drinking water Floridan Aquifer. VSU’s Lake Louise research station on Touchton Road just north of Lake Park is a sinkhole, not to mention probably most of the lakes around Lake Park. You only have to glance at a map to see such lakes continue westwards to the Withlacoochee River. And Spectra Energy from Houston, Texas proposes to gouge its hundred-foot right of way for its 36-inch Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline right through that area. What happens if pipeline construction causes a sinkhole?

What if it’s not immediate? What if it sinks years later in a drought after water pumping nearby? Sabal Trail’s Andrea Grover told me that they have insurance, despite what Spectra Energy’s annual filings with the SEC say. But has the county confirmed that? What if Sabal Trail declares a sinkhole a force majeure (act of God) event, which is insurance lingo for ain’t our problem, like Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) did for the infamous 25-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish, Louisiana in 2013? What will Lowndes County do then?


2 thoughts on “County and news media digging deeper on Shiloh sinkhole story

  1. Pingback: New sinkhole in Lowndes County terrain Sabal Trail wants to gouge through | SpectraBusters

  2. Pingback: Another sinkhole near where Sabal Trail proposes to gouge its pipeline - WWALS Watershed Coalition

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