Delaware River

New Jersey Backyards Sinking Into Delaware River, Families Evacuate

Engineers had bad news for two families living along the Delaware River in Florence Township, Burlington County -- they couldn't stay in their homes as their backyards sunk toward the river.

Chris and Lynne O’Dell tell NBC10 their property has been sinking for the past two years and their yard took its biggest hit yet during Monday’s downpours.

“Every day there’s a little bit more that goes,” Lynn O’Dell said. “It has taken its toll.”

Chris O’Dell says there was a normal tree line in his backyard overlooking the Delaware River when he bought the house ten years ago. In 2013 he noticed a significant change however and erosion that appeared to be unnatural. 

“We couldn’t understand why it was happening,” he said. “It just didn’t look normal.”

On Monday, the sinking reached a frightening tipping point due to the heavy rain. The couple says they could actually see the erosion happening during the rainfall, starting out past the edge of the roots of the cliff and continuing inward, minute by minute.

The heavy rain also unearthed an old county drain pipe that had been sealed years ago but more recently began leaking, likely eating away at the cliff from the inside out.

On Wednesday, township engineers told the O'Dells and their neighbors that it was no longer safe to stay in their homes.

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