Wyoming evacuees keep wary eyes on slow slide

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 12, 2014 at 2:07 am •  Published: April 12, 2014
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A slow-motion landslide in Wyoming was tearing one home apart inch by inch and keeping about 60 evacuees from knowing when, or even if, they might be able to move back into theirs.

At the foot of the slide zone, two restaurants, a liquor store and a just-built Walgreens remained closed Friday amid a slim but persistent risk the hill could collapse suddenly.

"We have two cats and two dogs, and it's a big disruption," said one evacuee, Heather Gould. "It's hard to plan and to know what we should or shouldn't do."

Officials in Jackson were aware a year ago that the hillside was shifting and had installed equipment to monitor the movement, Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson said Friday.

"We acknowledged the hillside had some sloughing up. But there wasn't anything drastic until this past Friday," she said.

The movement increased and broke a water line last week. A crack appeared atop a steep slope overlooking the businesses below and the call to evacuate the 46 homes and apartment units on Budge Drive — a quiet lane that snakes partway up the foot of East Gros Ventre Butte — came Wednesday.

On Friday, relatively warm spring weather made it a good day for residents of this fit, outdoorsy ski town to hike up nearby High School Butte on their lunch breaks.

Evacuees, however, were told to expect to remain out of their homes at least through the weekend. Police were escorting people back temporarily to retrieve belongings but not allowing them to stay overnight.

All eyes were on the slowly shifting ground — and on a weather forecast that called for a slight chance of potentially ground-softening rain or snow over the weekend.

"It may stop and it may escalate," said Jody Burkes as he inspected his home and a neighboring rental property he owns on Budge Drive. "So who knows. If it stops, maybe then they'll redo the road and see what happens. But the utilities? I don't know."

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