Nightly News   |  April 07, 2013

US suddenly looks like a sinkhole nation

Reports of a new sinkhole come each week. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez examines the sinkhole epidemic.

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>>> not a week goes by, it seems, without reports after new sinkhole that threatens a home or an entire neighborhood. nbc's gabe gutierrez has more on what seems like a sinkhole epidemic.

>> reporter: they seem to be everywhere. a neighborhood in ohio. a road in kentucky. a beach in new jersey.

>> and then all the sand just came right down and just sucked me in. i mean i couldn't move.

>> reporter: earlier this year in florida a sinkhole swallowed a man in his bedroom. this is new video showing the damage. since then we've heard similar horror stories. a golfer barry survives when the course opened up beneath him in illinois. more than 300 people in louisiana evacuated after the earth crumbled there. so are there more sinkholes are just more headlines about them?

>> it may be that you're having a rash of sinkholes in florida in particular as a result of the drought that's been going on.

>> reporter: the state's unique limestone bedrock is prone to collapse due to a shift in deep underground rivers.

>> too much rainfall can help develop more of the limestone and create some of the pockets that allow for sinkholes, but too little rainfall depressurizes causing sinkholes as well.

>> reporter: in florida sinkhole related claims more than double from 2006 from 2009 . it is now the only state that requires catastrophic ground collapse coverage.

>> we're coming off of a dry winter. an unusually driver winter. now the rains are starting to come. between now and july there is a chance there may be more sinkhole activity.

>> reporter: a record drought, perhaps giving way to a spring of sinkholes. gabe gutierrez, nbc news.