Rock slide wreaks havoc on Nile Valley - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Rock slide wreaks havoc on Nile Valley

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NILE VALLEY--Roads destroyed.  Homes evacuated.  And, a whole river forced to change course because of a rock slide along State Route 410 west of Naches.

Emergency personnel estimate 1,500 people were either forced to leave their homes or trapped in the Nile Valley for the night.

The landslide came as a shock to people who live there; it looked like the area had been hit by an earthquake.

"This morning we heard a lot of noise," Pat Sainsbury said.  He lives in Yakima, but spent the night in the Nile Valley.  "We got up and we saw the mountain caving in.  It came in a hurry.  Didn't take much time."

The slide started about 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Gravel began tumbling down toward State Route 410, cracking the road in several places.

Both manmade and natural routes couldn't withstand the slide.

The Naches River used to run along SR-410, but the landslide forced the entire river to change course.  Now, it's flowing across Nile Road.

Wally Butler works at the Woodshed restaurant and lives close enough to watch the mountain come down.

He couldn't believe his eyes.

"I thought, 'Man, this is Mother Nature at work," Butler said.  "You don't mess with Mother Nature, and when you start to take some of its land away, something's going to start giving.  This is a prime example of what happens when you mess with Mother Nature."

Butler is one of hundreds who can't get back home.  Still, others like Pat Sainsbury are toughing it out.

"I'm going to stick up here for a couple of days," Sainsbury said.  "People here are gone, and I'm just going to keep an eye on everybody's stuff."

Washington State Department of Transportation crews say the slide's about a half-mile long.

Between the slide and flooding of the Naches, at least 30 homes have been affected.

"Never in a million years thought it'd amount to this," Sainsbury said.  "We see rock slides over here all the time, dirt flying, we just thought it was a normal thing."

The Red Cross set up a shelter at Naches Valley High School for evacuees.

Department of Transportation engineers say they'll have to build a new road, probably over top of the rock slide.  It could be several weeks before that work is completed.

No injuries have been reported as of Sunday night.

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