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Residents who live near quarries in northwest Miami-Dade and southwest Broward say their homes have been damaged for years by blasting at the nearby work sites.
“You almost feel like you are in an earthquake and you don’t know what to expect,” resident Howard Lane said.
The explosions happen almost daily and come from the quarries that are now surrounded by homes. The homeowners have long complained about the blasts that they say feel like mini earthquakes. The blasting is for limestone that’s used for road construction.
“Noticing cracks in the driveway, cracks in the garage, you know cracks all over,” Lane said.
“The department has received an influx of complaints as it relates to material mine blasting,” said Jon Moore, with Florida’s Department of Financial Services.
“It feels powerless,” said Miramar resident Kate Tobon.
More than 4,000 people have signed a petition organized by Tobon hoping to make the blasting stop. But the state says the quarries are blasting under the seismic limit set by law and a spokesperson for one large quarry released a statement saying “data is very clear: blasting within regulated limits does not cause damage to homes. This is confirmed by numerous independent studies conducted over many decades.”
But some families who have reported damage don’t know what else could have caused it, and now an attorney believes he can help the homeowners get money to make fixes.
“We now know that vibrations can absolutely cause damage to the home,” attorney Steve Knecht said.
Knecht has been working for more than a year to see if engineers can prove the cracks and leaks at homes were caused by the repeated blasts.
“We know now there is coverage and there’s a building code that would help repair a home from blasting damage and retrofit it to dampen the vibration that would hurt the home in the future,” Knecht said.
Knecht believes homeowners could get money from their insurance because of a 2017 building code that he says now puts an emphasis on seismic loads, or blasting.
“I can tell you we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t feel with 100 percent certainty that we can help them,” Knecht said.
More then 100 families have signed on with Knecht. But not Tobon, who said she wants more than money.
“For me and my family our priority is to stop the source of the problem. It doesn’t make any sense to fix a house if they are going to come closer and they are going to continue blasting,” Tobon said.
The White Rock Quarry says it’s been blasting since the mid-80s and as homes were developed near it, they realize people blaming them for damage is the “simplest explanation.”
But they say without blasting, building and construction would come to a halt, prices would rise and jobs would be in jeopardy. The state launched a study earlier this year to monitor and review blasting levels along with the methods quarries use to blast for limestone.