Event Report

Event Description

Landslide in USA on Friday, 18 January, 2013 at 03:07 (03:07 AM) UTC.

The rain-soaked western mountain counties have seen a deluge of smaller landslides over roadways, with nearly 50 slope failures causing problems on DOT roads. "We've had four in Cherokee County, three in Clay County, 23 in Graham County, eight in Haywood, 10 in Jackson, two in Macon, six in Swain and none in Henderson, Polk and Transylvania." Said Joel Setzer, district engineer for District 14, which comprises the 10 westernmost counties. Setzer noted that these are only slides on DOT-maintained roads. More have occurred on private roads. Most of the slides have been from smaller embankments that overhang roadways, Setzer said, and so far the failures have not caused any wrecks. When the embankments fail, earth and debris slides onto the road. So far, DOT crews have been able to clear all of these slides, working through the night in some cases. One on Cherohala Skyway is more severe, though, and likely will result in that road being closed, Setzer said. Also closed is Bulldog Drive in Murphy. The foundation of the bridge over the Valley River has been compromised. "When the flood came up, it piled up debris on the bridge piers and started a new path around the end supports of bridge," Setzer said. "That undermined the piers that are embedded into the ground." That closed the road, which serves Murphy High and Middles schools, as well as a Lowe's Home Improvement store. An alternate entrance is available, but it takes longer to get in, Setzer said. DOT crews will have to wait till the weather clears and the Valley River recedes to assess whether the bridge can be repaired or will have to be replaced. Setzer said they are also closely monitoring Interstate 40 through the Pigeon River Gorge, the site of numerous rock slides since the 1960s, with the latest coming in 2009.

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