Demolition of Seffner Sinkhole Home Begins

Mar 3, 2013

A backhoe with an extended hydraulic arm parked some 40 feet away from the stricken home and began tearing at the small cinderblock and wood house Sunday morning as relatives of Jeffrey Bush, presumed dead, watched from across the street. Little by little, the inside of the home was revealed to the family, which hugged each other and wept at times, and to the throng of onlookers. The demolition stopped just over two hours after it began. Crews planned to erect a fence around the half-standing home, and said they would return Monday morning to keep working.

Why Do Sinkholes Form in Florida?

Mar 2, 2013

The sinkhole that swallowed a man sleeping in his Seffner home has spawned concern over why these natural occurrences take place. Here's a few reasons provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey.

Facts about sinkholes in Florida:

Rescuers See "No Signs" Of Man Trapped In Sinkhole

Mar 1, 2013

Rescuers are trying to figure out how to reach a man who disappeared into a sinkhole that opened up under his bedroom last night. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials say they can see “no signs” of Jeffery Bush, and had to halt the rescue operation until engineers could stabilize the hole. The hole is thought to be at least 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

South Florida Information Access / U.S. Geological Survey

Hillsborough County Deputy Douglas Duvall saved one man from a sinkhole that developed inside the bedroom of a Seffner home, but another is believed still buried.

Duvall responded to a call about a sinkhole Thursday night. He entered the bedroom as the sinkhole was collapsing - having swallowed up a bed, dress and victim. He said the scene was a little bit scary.

The deputy was able to rescue one man - reaching down and pulling him out by the hand. The man, according to Duvall, was attempting to find his brother in the rubble of the sinkhole.

New Tampa Opens Up New Bridge

Feb 27, 2013

It's not even a mile long, but the New Tampa Boulevard Bridge may go a long way toward relieving traffic congestion on Bruce B. Downs in New Tampa.  

The bridge crosses over Interstate 75 connecting Commerce Park Boulevard in the Tampa Palms community with New Tampa Boulevard in the West Meadows community- behind the Muvico Movie Theatre.

Water Restrictions Increased in Tampa Bay Area

Feb 26, 2013

Despite the rains and heavy storms driving through the area today, it's not enough to keep the underground aquifer filled.

That's what the board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District decided today, moving to increase water restrictions.

Here's the word from SWFMUD:

Tornado Spotted in Downtown Tampa

Feb 26, 2013

A tornado briefly struck a downtown Tampa hotel Tuesday, damaging the roof and awnings and scattering debris as severe weather moved through the Tampa Bay region. A waterspout formed in the bay near Davis Islands, moved over the Harbour Island bridge and briefly became a low-level tornado before dissipating, the National Weather Service said. The tornado was categorized as an F-0, with wind speeds of 40–72 mph. No injuries were reported. Downed trees, structural damage and power outages were reported around the region, including Cedar Key, where wind gusts were clocked at 91 mph.

Tampa water is safe to drink and use for cooking again according to the City of Tampa website.

City officials lifted the precautionary "Boil Water Notice" that has been in effect since Friday afternoon for all Tampa water customers.

Tests confirmed that the 25 water samples taken Saturday showed no contamination.

The city's website message also included this thank you to water customers:

City of Tampa photo

It's safe to drink the water again.

And wash dishes, wash the kiddies and the dog and all those things you couldn't do in Tampa after a squirrel chewed through a power line at the city's water treatment plant along the Hillsborough River Friday.

The notice to boil water was lifted early this morning. Here's the official notice from the city of Tampa:

The City of Tampa automatically calls for a "precautionary boil water notice" whenever there's a loss of pressure in the underground pipes because contaminants can potentially seep into the water supply.

Here are tips on how to disinfect water from the city's fact sheet on what to do during a Boil Water Notice:

Tampa's Boil Water Notice to Continue Through Sunday

Feb 23, 2013

More than a half-million Tampa water customers will have to continue boiling their drinking water or rely on bottled water at least through Sunday morning.

City crews collected 25 water samples throughout the service area on Saturday. The  samples are being tested for possible bacterial contamination. However, testing the samples for safety will take another 24 hours, according to City of Tampa water officials.

Science continues to show that what we think makes us human may not be so unique: New research finds that bottlenose dolphins call the "names of loved ones when they become separated," Discovery News reports.

Victor Habbick /

Here's a troubling statistic: Of the 63,837 species worldwide that have undergone population assessments, 19,817 — or one out of three — are threatened with extinction.

That's according to Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. But the lab isn't taking these numbers lying down. 

This week, Mote announced that it will host a new coalition of aquariums, zoos and governmental and non-governmental organizations to address the needs of sea turtles, sea birds and other vulnerable marine life.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

A group of environmental activists and students protested what they claim is the federal government's lack of action in fighting climate change. It coincided with a climate conference at the University of South Florida.

(SOUND: What do we want? Clean energy? When do we want it? Now....)

About a dozen activists gathered on USF's Tampa campus in an attempt to prod the federal government to promote clean energy policies to combat global warming.  Frank Jackalone is with the Sierra Club's Florida Chapter.

Part three of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

The long, clunky-looking fishing boat pulls up to Day Boat Seafood's dock near Fort Pierce, Fla., after 10 days out in the Atlantic. The crew lowers a thick rope into the hold, and begins hoisting 300-pound swordfish off their bed of ice and onto a slippery metal scale.

Over 1,500 hunters help capture 50 pythons in FL

Feb 5, 2013

More than 1,500 participants of a monthlong python challenge have helped to capture 50 Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission updated the counts Tuesday for the "Python Challenge." The competition began Jan. 12 and ends Feb. 10.

George Guthro / R/V Weatherbird II

The University of South Florida and a trio of WUSF reporters are being honored for their work in response to the BP Gulf oil spill in 2010.

A team of USF researchers and officials, led by Dr. William Hogarth, are among the recipients of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Tampa Bay's STEM Catalyst Collaborative Partnerships Award.

New York Times

The New York Times says global warming and sea level rise isn't just a threat in the future -- it was a fact in the past.

A new article says the amount of sea level rise could be much higher, and happen much faster, than previously believed. And if past changes are any clue, the sea levels could get pretty high:

In previous research, scientists have determined that when the earth warms by only a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, enough polar ice melts, over time, to raise the global sea level by about 25 to 30 feet. But in the coming century, the earth is expected to warm more than that, perhaps four or five degrees, because of human emissions of greenhouse gases.

Experts say the emissions that may make a huge increase of sea level inevitable are expected to occur in just the next few decades. They fear that because the world’s coasts are so densely settled, the rising oceans will lead to a humanitarian crisis lasting many hundreds of years.

This issue is critically important to the Tampa Bay region. Much of south Tampa, St. Petersburg and the Pinellas beaches would be flooded with just a few feet of sea level rise (see attached slideshow.)

It's the topic of a March event at Eckerd College: “Sea Level Rise in Florida: Mitigation, Adaptation or Retreat?”

Retirees flock to Florida — and the Sunshine State even has a retirement home for chimpanzees.

There, chimps live in small groups on a dozen man-made islands. Each 3-acre grassy island has palm trees and climbing structures, and is surrounded by a moat.

This is Save the Chimps, the world's biggest sanctuary for chimps formerly used in research experiments or the entertainment industry, or as pets. The chimps living here — 266 of them — range in age from 6 years old to over 50. And as sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein drives around in a golf cart, she recognizes each one.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

In January, a group of wildlife conservationists camped at the southern tip of the Everglades, ready to take the first step in a thousand-mile journey up the central spine of Florida. And they did it for 100 days straight - through swamps, cattle pasture and subdivisions on the creeping edge of suburbia. Why would they do that? Their mission: publicizing the need to connect the state's disjointed natural areas into a continuous wildlife corridor - from the Everglades to Georgia.