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Dozens evacuated in Wyoming town as ground slips

  • Associated Press
  • April 10, 2014 - 5:30 PM

JACKSON, Wyo. — Local officials and dozens of evacuees kept anxious watch Thursday on a slowly sliding hillside that threatened to take out several homes and businesses in this resort town.

They also had an eye on the weather, hoping no rain or snow triggers a sudden, massive release of dirt and rock. Forecasters predicted a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain and snow this weekend.

People remained evacuated, since Wednesday, from 46 houses and apartment units. Authorities were escorting people back to their homes, temporarily, to fetch belongings.

"We're just wanting to make sure we have everyone out in case there's some kind of catastrophic release of the hillside," Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson said Thursday. "Even if it continues to be slow, it's going to be disruptive for access."

Four or five homes and an apartment building stood just above the area where officials first noticed the ground moving after some water pipes burst Friday. Below, at least three businesses including a newly built Walgreens pharmacy were at risk of being hit by a landslide.

The ground was bulging and creeping — not suddenly sliding — yet still doing a fair amount of damage by buckling and cracking pavement a couple of hundred yards or less from Jackson's main drag. One town councilman told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://tinyurl.com/n38hxtc) he toured a house in which the living room sloped downhill and kitchen cabinets had fallen off the wall.

Town officials were waiting to hear from geologists about whether the slide was slowing down or speeding up, or if the ground had stopped moving. Geologists had measured movement as deep as 50 feet underground, Robinson said.

Jackson officials say there is no danger like a landslide that killed at least 35 people in Washington state March 22, because residents have had plenty of time to evacuate.

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