Featured News 2012 What to Do about Landslides

What to Do about Landslides

Landslides are one of the most damaging disasters to any property. Torrential rains can cause dirt to moisten and slip down steep hills into people's property. This unfortunate accident can cost thousands in property damages. Portland State University, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has worked to compile a Homeowner's Guide Landslides, which they hope will keep homeowner's prepared for this terrible incident. By definition, a landslide is a shifting of rock, soil, and debris which moves down a slope with the force of gravity. Landslides happen in every one of the United States, and cost about $3.5 billion nationally every year. About 25-50 people die from a landslide every year, and landslides are known for reducing the real estate value of your property.

They are not normally covered by homeowner's insurance policy, which means that if you are confronted with a landslide you may be paying a lot of out-of-pocket costs. These landslides can include rock falls, mud flow, debris flows, or surface failures like slumps, earthflows, and translational slides. Sometimes these landslides rush in in a matter of seconds, and other times they are gradual, taking weeks to do their damage. A slide is the quickest and most common type of landslide. This is when sediments and soils slip down a hill and are eventually apprehended by a barrier, such as your home. Rock falls are another very dangerous form of a landslide. These occur in places with vertical cliffs that have loose rocks.

If you are in immediate danger to a landslide, you should evacuate your home immediately. Homes that are most prone to be hit by a landslide are located on or at the base of steep dirt hills. If these hills have been ravaged by fire recently, this will weaken the root systems of plants in the area, which will further heighten your probability of a landslide when the rains come. Make sure to inform you neighbors if you foresee one of these disasters, and call the police or fire department to standby. It is also wise to contact a registered engineering geologist or a geotechnical engineer to look at the condition of the hills behind your home. If your house is making noises, the walls and floors are tilting, or cracks in the house are actively opening, your home may be in the center or a landslide.

The force of the heavy mud may be able to tear down your home, and send cracks ripping through the ground. Also, in a landslide the water in drainage systems normally become irregular or stop. If you do not leave your home when a landslide seems imminent, the property may be severely damaged in a way that could injure you. Slumps are a landslide that occurs when unconsolidated materials move down a slope and create a divot in the earth. An earth flow happens with an un-channeled flow of water that moves down a slope. These are commonly created from excessive rain or flooding. Debris and mud flows can also create serious damage to people who own property that backs up to hills.

There are practical ways that you can try to reduce the likelihood of a landslide in your area. Try to minimize the amount of irrigation on slopes near your home, and take extra precaution that water and sewer lines don't leak. Remove materials from the base of steep hills. Try to create drainage on slopes so that all water is channeled during rainfall and plant foliage with deep roots so that it will keep dirt in place. If you are still worried about a landslide, build retaining walls at the base of the slope so that it will protect the home.

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