Landslide may have started moving in 2002

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by KING 5 News

KING

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 2:19 AM

COUPEVILLE, Wash. -- Residents affected by the quarter-mile landslide on Whidbey Island attended a community meeting Thursday night. They asked county leaders questions about a wide range of concerns from the cause of the landslide to curious onlookers and looters getting too close to the neighborhood.

As far as protecting the properties, the public works department posted local access only signs. The Island County Sheriff's office will be monitoring the area to keep extra traffic out.

It will be months before some people have full access to their homes following Wednesday’s landslide, firefighters said Thursday.

Four homes are being yellow tagged, which means the owners will have limited access.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said when geologists mapped this area of Whidbey in 2005, it was marked as a historically deep-seated landslide. They also said the landslide might have started moving in 2002, maybe even earlier.

The properties are located on Driftwood Way and Fircrest Avenue. At least five homes are said to be  in immediate danger. One home was knocked off its foundation, and 17 homes are difficult to reach because of a wiped out road. 

"I used to say 'in a million years we'll have waterfront property' and now I can say 100 years or tomorrow. It's unbelievable," said Nancy Skullerud.

The slide in the Ledgewood neighborhood obliterated the hillside at about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday. Washington DNR said the landslide displaced approximately 5.3 million square feet of earth. No one was injured. Geologists are still working to determine what triggered the landslide.

During the 1996/1997 storms, a home was destroyed just north of the current Whidbey landslide, the DNR also said. According to the DNR, our climate, topography, and geology create a perfect setting for landslides.

In Wednesday's slide, a two-lane road in the neighborhood was wiped out and pushed 300 feet down the slope. A new road must be built to get some people access to their homes. That could take weeks or months. Geologists will drill for water samples next week to determine when it will be safe to start building a road.

“It’s taken a while to soak it in to realize that life changes in five minutes,” said Skullerud. “Mother Nature always wins.”

KING 5's Eric Wilkinson, Natalie Swaby and Angela King contributed to this report

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