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Owners of homes at risk of sliding into river told to leave

FLORENCE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — The owners of two homes were ordered to evacuate Wednesday because of what officials called an imminent concern that their residences could slide 70 feet into the Delaware River below.

Erosion has long been an issue for the hilltop homes in Florence, a town 8 miles south of Trenton. But heavy rains over the last several days made it worse, sending a large tree toppling into the river in a landslide.

Township Administrator Richard Brook said the families who own the two houses might never live there again. “It would be too unsafe for them,” he said Wednesday. “It can only deteriorate. It can’t get better without man-made help.”

Chris O’Dell, who has owned one of the homes for more than a decade, said he realized that, too. “When we walk away, we could be walking away for good and losing everything,” he said. “That’s hard to take.”

His wife, Lynne O’Dell, cried as she spoke. “This is our home,” she said. “We put a lot of effort into it. I put a lot of love in this house.”

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