A Florida time-share resort where a sinkhole devoured a building Sunday night said it is open for business and next week’s guests should “come on down.”

The general manager of Summer Bay Resort, located 6 miles from Walt Disney World, made the pitch to guests at a news conference on Tuesday.  He said that geological and structural testing underway on the 100-foot wide cavern and the surrounding buildings should be complete by Wednesday.

Guests staying in the downed building were evacuated by an alert security guard who ran inside to wake occupants as the structure was twisting and collapsing around him.  No one was injured.  A total of 36 people were evacuated from two buildings on the sprawling 64-acre property, which has a total of 900 units, the resort said.

The state of Florida, which is prone to sinkholes because of its porous limestone foundation, is set this fall to begin the creation of a statewide geological map showing the relative vulnerabilities to sinkholes.  The map could be used by local governments making decisions on building permits.

The map project received funding two weeks ago for its first stage with a $1.1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, following a number of sinkholes in 2012 in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby.  A long drought lowered the water table and emptied natural voids in the limestone, which then collapsed under the weight of Debby’s torrential rains.

Sinkholes are a common feature of Florida’s landscape, typically becoming sites for springs, lakes and portions of rivers after they occur.  They most commonly occur as a result of naturally acidic underground water flowing through and dissolving the underlying limestone.  North and central Florida generally are more vulnerable than south Florida.

In March, a sinkhole under a Tampa-area home opened and swallowed the bedroom of 37-year-old landscaper Jeff Bush, whose body was never recovered.

In 1981, in Winter Park near Orlando, a sinkhole measuring 320 feet wide and 90 feet deep swallowed a two-story house, part of a Porsche dealership and an Olympic-size swimming pool. The site is now an artificial lake.

We have sinkholes in our state due to old, abandoned underground coal mines, but everyone knows where these old mines were and nobody goes near them due to the possible risk of collapse.  In fact, most are plotted and the areas have posted warnings to stay out.  Most of these plotted mines are in rural areas and there are no structures or buildings anywhere near them.

This is just another example of man encroaching on areas of the country that are not meant to have buildings erected on site.  We have all seen the landslides that undercut the ground under existing homes, or flashfloods that destroy homes next to a river or creek, or homes destroyed by forest fires because people chose to build homes in remote places.  You would think we would learn, but developers are greedy bastards and have already moved on, by the time a disaster strikes.  But people want to be next to nature and the more remote it is or more scenic it is…the better.

When fire erupted in an un-incorporated area north of Colorado Springs on June 11, 2013; I am sure that no residents of that area could have imagined the level of destruction that they would soon face.  The Black Forest fire lasted nine days before it was contained, 14,280 acres (22.31 square miles) were burned, at least 486 homes were said to be destroyed, and two people had died. The estimated damage of this fire was later believed to be over $ 85 million. This was the most destructive fire in the state’s history, surpassing the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire which also began near Colorado Springs. (Most of the Waldo Canyon blaze actually was in the city limits, while Black Forest is to the north of the city.)  During the height of the fire, my brother-in-law had smoking embers on the roof of his house…7 miles away from the fire.

So, I guess I’ll stay here.  I might have to endure a blizzard or two, but I can always stay inside.  You people in Florida can have your sinkholes.  Besides, a blizzard never swallows someone up, while sitting on the toilet.

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