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Expert: Despite Erosion, Deadly Sinkholes Unlikely Along Jersey Shore

Fla. Man Presumed Dead After Massive Sinkhole Swallowed Home Last Week
Hole under home in Ortley Beach, NJ March 4, 2013 (credit: CBS 2)

Hole under home in Ortley Beach, NJ March 4, 2013 (credit: CBS 2)

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ORTLEY BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Superstorm Sandy left Ortley Beach along the Jersey Shore with what looks like dozens of sinkholes, mostly under homes.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Monday, the holes in the earth are apparent on almost every street in town.

“This collapse, sinkhole, wash out, whatever it’s called is encroaching on our property and we don’t know at this point who has responsibility for it,” resident Nick Solanko said.

The storm surge that decimated much of the Jersey Shore created about 60 holes in Ortley Beach, Sloan reported. The holes were formed when water got under the sand beneath the homes.

“In Superstorm Sandy, we had a very large surge of water that came in flooded large portions of our region and that water is very powerful at moving sediments and other objects around. So it washed out a lot of the sand and other sediments that buildings were built on and we saw those foundations crack and collapse,” geologist Katie Gardner of the Liberty Science Center told Sloan.

Gardner said the holes that appeared in Ortley Beach look like sinkholes but are technically called a “land subsidence.”

Sinkholes are common in Florida because the state is built on limestone.

Last week, a man from a Tampa suburb was swallowed up by a sinkhole in his home as he slept. Crews working Monday evening carefully to chip away at what’s left of Jeff Bush’s home, without disturbing the already-fragile land, revealed the sinkhole where his home once stood.

There is limestone similar to what’s in Florida called Dolomite in the western part of New Jersey and in New York near the Kittatinny Mountains, Sloan reported.

While there have been huge holes along the Jersey Shore, Gardner noted a catastrophic event like the one in Florida would be unlikely in our area.

Experts said that while there are thousands of sinkholes that open up in Florida every year, few affect homes and even fewer cause deaths.

Authorities said it is unlikely Bush’s body will be recovered from the massive hole that swallowed his home.

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