Falling rocks expected as ridge moves, Emergency Management says - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Falling rocks expected as ridge moves, Emergency Management says

Posted: Updated:

2-26-18 UPDATE:

UNION GAP, WA - After receiving reports of increased landslide activity, Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management and their response partners visually reassessed the area and spoke with the geologists monitoring the slide.

While they did observe rocks falling into the quarry, they were reassured that this is to be expected throughout the duration of the landslide as it continues to move. 

The monitoring equipment has not seen an increase in velocity, and the slide continues to move at the pace of 1.7 feet per week.

There are no changes to evacuation levels and I-82 is still open.

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2-1-18 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - It's been just over 24 hours since officials monitoring the landslide on Rattlesnake Ridge lifted Level 3 evacuations for those living along I-82. Dozens of families have been staying in hotels for weeks, but will they go back home?

It's been nothing but uncertainty for the nearly two dozen families who were living in mobile homes between I-82 and Thorp Road. They are able to go back to their homes, but the majority of them are saying "no thanks."

That includes Camerino Martinez. He's one of the few evacuees that are still living at the Ledgestone Hotel in Yakima.

"Up until now I haven't found anything permanent," Martinez said. "I'm working on finding a place now. I went all the way to Sunnyside and Wapato, and I've been running around but haven't found anything."

The Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic is taking care of eight of the families. They say that none of them want to go back near the ridge at this time.

So far, six families out of the eight have been placed in other houses, but even though Martinez hasn't been able to find somewhere else to live, he says there's no way he will be going back to his trailer home.

"If we already came out with life, why are we going to return to the danger?" Martinez asks. "All I know is that I'm not going back, no I am not. I want to live the rest of my life that God grants me out of the danger. I don't want to wake up one day under dirt and rocks."

Neighborhood Health is another local organization that is helping families who had to live their homes. They also say the majority of families they're working with don't want to go back, and that they're working to find them new homes.

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1-31-18 ORIGINAL STORY:

UNION GAP, WA - Emergency Management had another briefing on the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide this morning, to announce that they are going into standby mode.

This means that Emergency Management is putting a hold on the briefings for now. This comes after multiple agencies like DNR and Wyllie & Norrish Rock Engineers have found that the landslide continues to move at a rate of 1.6 feet per week.

Because that rate is not changing, both DNR and third party geologists believe the landslide could take years, if not decades, to come down.

EM is now looking into what will happen with all of the residents that were evacuated from their homes alongside Thorp Road.

Officials have been having weekly briefings, and at one point there was more than one a week. But now that's all changing. This morning's press conference will be the last - at least for now.

The Joint Information Center is now in standby mode and will send out anything important if and when things change.

But EM says they'll be ready at a moment's notice to meet the needs of public safety.

"Based on [the third party geologist's] review and the characteristics of the slide, he did not find that rapid failure of the slide was a high possibility and found it much more that the slide would continue to act in a slow, systematic way," said Jim Struthers, WSDOT Chief Engineering Geologist.

As the slide continues to move south, scientists say there will likely be rockfall and slides that could impact Thorp Road in the coming weeks and months.

Thorp Road has been shut down since the middle of December. There's no indication when that would or could open back up.

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