Residents: Land sinking into St. Johns River

Neighbors blame their sinking property on dredged river

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Northside family who lives along the St. Johns River said their land is vanishing before their eyes. Ann Ebel and her family, who live off Hecksher Drive, said their boat dock is sinking into the ground and washing away.

Channel 4 first met Ebel in September 2010. On Thursday, Ebel's dock and bulkhead fell into the river. The same happened to her neighbor, Don Pellegrini's dock and bulkhead.

"I just cant believe it. I am in shock. It all went down in thirty minutes," said Ebel.

Ebel and her neighbors said the problems started when the Army Corp deepened the channel in the St. Johns river in 2008.

Pellegrini lost his first dock to the river just after that happened. Almost $200,000 worth of his property has been ruined between that dock, the one he lost Thursday, and the land that's fallen in the river.

"I have spent years trying to build this up, trying to fight the river back. It didn't used to be this way. But on days like this, I realize it's a losing battle," said Pellegrini.

Channel 4 called the Army Corp to get a comment on what has happened, but they were unavailable Thursday afternoon. Channel 4 asked them about this same problem two years ago, and their response was, "We did a a study on the issue. That study shows we are not to blame for the erosion," said an Army Corp spokesman in 2010.

But Ebel and Pellegrini aren't buying it. They said they are all for progress and a profitable port, but not at the expense of their property and peace of mind.

"It's frustrating, but its frightening. It took my palms today. Will it take my house tomorrow?" said Ebel.

Neighbors in the area worry about upcoming port expansion. Many people Channel 4 spoke with worry the issues they have now will only get worse.

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