Hickory, North Carolina, does not have the same sinkhole problems that Hernando County, Florida, has experienced, but a major loss happened at Catawba Valley Community College this summer. On July 27, 2013, more than 10 inches of rain fell in Hickory and a drain line on Catawba Valley campus failed. Now, school is back in session but the repairs to the drain line and the 60′ by 30′ sinkhole need to be completed. What caused the actual void is not clear; based on the news reports, no information was provided about any geophysical testing run on this site but the locals are calling it a sinkhole. Merriam-Webster defines a sinkhole as a hollow place or depression in which drainage collects or a hollow in a limestone region that communicates with a cavern or passage.
Hickory, North Carolina, is a mountainous area and the geology of this section of North Carolina is very different from the limestone we see in Florida sinkhole losses. It would be interesting to see if there was movement and shifting of soils in this mountainous area that was uncovered by the 10 inches rain or whether the failing pipe contributed to or caused a washout. Some North Carolina policies may contemplate coverage for earth movement and may be less restricted than in another part of the country.
Channel 3 WBTV reported repairs are estimated to cost 1.5 million dollars and will take months to complete. The report indicates that insurance proceeds are expected but that tells me the carrier has yet to pay. How the void will be repaired is not clear from the report but because of the different repair methodologies followed by geotechnical engineers, these issues could be impacting the carrier’s response.