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Sinkhole Swallows Florida Family’s Entire Backyard, Threatens Home

A sinkhole that opened up May 3, 2012, behind a Windermere, Fla. home has grown to about 100 feet wide and 50 feet deep. (ABC News)(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- For the second time this month, a Florida family is at risk of having their home swallowed by the earth.  A sinkhole sucked in Robert Matheny’s entire backyard Friday, and as of Monday, the hole was about 105 feet long and 80 feet wide, slowly edging toward the house.

“I pulled open the curtains and there it was,” said the Gainesville father.  “My first words were, do you think it’s time to move?”

The massive hole has forced Matheny and his wife out of the place they called home for the past 37 years.

“It took 12 hours to get 27 years of stuff packed up and out of the house,” Matheny said.  “I want to just move out and let somebody else deal with it.”

Metheny said most of the movement has been happening inside the hole, but still, he and his family are not taking any chances.  They say they won’t be coming back.

The Methenys aren’t the only Florida residents to be forced to evacuate their home.  Earlier this month a Windmere family awoke to find their backyard gone as well.  A sinkhole that swallowed several objects, including four trees and a hammock, had grown to at least 100 feet wide and 50 feet deep.  This incident raised concerns among neighbors, who feared they would also have to flee the area.

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Sinkholes form when ground water builds up and dissolves minerals into the earth, creating a hole so large that the land on top caves in. Geologists say that years of drought without a major hurricane striking the area is what may have helped the hole threatening the Matheny home.

County officials say the family’s neighbors are not in danger.

Although the Mathenys have lost the land where they watched their children grow up, they say they’re thankful no one was there when the ground caved in.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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