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Residents Wait To Return Home After Landslide On Puget Sound Island

Houses sit near the edge of a landslide on Whidbey Island on Wednesday.
Ted S. Warren
/
Associated Press
Houses sit near the edge of a landslide on Whidbey Island on Wednesday.

Residents forced from their homes on Puget Sound's scenic Whidbey Island in Washington State are waiting for a green light from geologists and engineers after a large landslide knocked a house off its foundation and threatened to damage several others.

The landslide on the island, about 50 miles north of Seattle, measured about a quarter-mile wide and a half-mile deep, according to NBC News.

No one was injured in the collapse early Wednesday near the town of Coupeville. One home sustained heavy damage and 33 others were ordered evacuated, according to The Associated Press.

"It's possible more homes could be lost. We're trying to ensure the safety and awareness of people," Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin told KOMO-TV in Seattle. There's not anything we can do to stop the movement of the ground."

Resident Ralph Young and his wife, Cheryl, were forced to evacuate their home. He told NBC that the landslide sounded like "rolling thunder."

Geologists took an initial look and said residents could return to about 15 homes higher up the hillside Wednesday evening, Hartin said. Seventeen homes were evacuated along that road, and officials were still concerned about two, he said.

Eleven people from 16 homes along a road close to the water were evacuated by boat because the road was blocked by the landslide, Hartin said, according to The AP.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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