TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Sinkholes are an all to common occurrence in Florida and that’s why the state has received a $1.08 million federal grant to study the state’s vulnerability to the natural phenomenon.

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.

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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.

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The grant is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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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A sinkhole also formed earlier this year under a person’s home and ended up swallowing up the house and its owner.