Florida gets federal grant to study sinkholes

People look at a large sinkhole near Jonesville Park Monday, June 25, 2012, in Jonesville, Fla. Tropical Storm Debby raked the Tampa Bay area with high wind and heavy rain Monday in a drenching that could top 2 feet over the next few days and trigger widespread flooding. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

People look at a large sinkhole near Jonesville Park Monday, June 25, 2012, in Jonesville, Fla. Tropical Storm Debby raked the Tampa Bay area with high wind and heavy rain Monday in a drenching that could top 2 feet over the next few days and trigger widespread flooding. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Florida has received a $1.08 million federal grant to study the state's vulnerability to sinkholes.

Starting this fall, the Florida Geological Survey and the Florida Division of Emergency Management will spend three years assessing the risk for potential sinkholes statewide. The project will begin with a yearlong pilot study in Hamilton, Columbia and Suwannee counties.

The state's emergency management chief said Thursday that sinkholes are a potential hazard for many Floridians. Bryan Koon says a better understanding of Florida's vulnerability to sinkholes will help prevent the loss of life and property.

The grant is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sinkholes are common in Florida. Officials say their grant request was prompted by Tropical Storm Debby. The 2012 storm's heavy rains triggered the formation of many sinkholes.

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