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Landslide Evacuates Residents In Jackson

By: Dean Johnson Email
By: Dean Johnson Email

"I have never seen anything like this, this is like straight out of Ghostbusters about to fall straight into the abyss." - John Corless

After declaring the town of Jackson in a state of emergency due to an unstable hillside; town officials are now evaluating the next stop for the slowly-moving hillside.

John Corless, who helped move two full houses says, "I have never seen anything like this, this is like straight out of Ghostbusters about to fall straight into the abyss."

Businesses, houses, and grocery stores are left abandoned after an evacuation was issued for residents on the hillside of budge drive. Evacuee Nick Varley says, "It's been a scramble to figure out if you're going to be able to get in there to get your stuff, how much stuff you can actually get, when you can get the reminder of it out, it's a nightmare," while another Evacuee Brad Watsabaugh agrees "Even before they had said anything about an evacuation, we were already packing up because I had looked at the cracks and had seen what was going on."

City officials first started to notice movement in the hillside on April 4th; it caused a water line to break at the town’s pump station, but if you ask residents on the hill it’s been happening for a while. "My cousins house started moving a year and a half two years ago something like that, the one that's up above me, and we noticed that there were some cracks and stuff in the ground, but we didn't know how severe it was at that point," Watsabaugh said.

A geologist from Oregon has been brought in to assess the situation and determine what the city can do. George Machan, with Landslide Technology says, "What will eventually have to happen because this landslide is probably not going to heal by itself, they'll have to be some kind of action taken to stabilize it."

Machan says this is a slow-moving landslide so the likelihood of something catastrophic happening, like in Washington, is very minimal. "I can't rule out that they'll be a big lurch in that landslide, but it's very unlikely, something that might be less than five percent possibility," Machan said.

In the meantime, evacuations are still in effect, leaving dozens of residents homeless. Executive Director for the American Red Cross Bridger-Teton Branch Dee Buckstaff says, "There are a couple of hotels that have actually offered the first night free, which is fabulous, and a discounted rate for any nights after that."


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