Evacuations follow landslide caused by heavy rains

ST. GEORGE — Three families were safely evacuated after a retaining wall behind several mobile homes on Twin Lakes Drive failed Sunday evening, sending soil and debris sliding directly onto the residences.

A brick retaining wall failed and crumbled against a residence at the Twin Lakes RV Park located at 840 N. Twin Lakes Drive in St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Just after 8 p.m. firefighters were dispatched to a reported landslide that occurred behind several mobile homes in the Twin Lakes RV Park in St. George, St. George Fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said.

A police officer out on patrol noticed that the retaining wall was gone and called in to report a possible landslide.

Once firefighters arrived, they discovered that one of the retaining walls directly behind several of the homes had failed, leaving a pile of bricks, soil and debris at the bottom of the embankment.

One residence in particular took the brunt of the slide, Hooper said; however, all of the homes along that wall are still at risk.

“Our concern is that with the amount of rain and continued rain, that we are going to have more movement,” he said.

Soil and debris slams against side of a home after retaining wall fails at the Twin Lakes RV Park located at 840 N. Twin Lakes Drive in St. George, Utah, Jan. 22, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

With the failed retaining wall and possibility that the soil would continue sliding, a decision was made to evacuate three of the families living directly in the path of the slide, Hooper said.

The American Red Cross was contacted and dispatched to the area to assist, Hooper said, adding that the agency is often called during natural disasters, fires or other emergencies that involve residents being displaced or evacuated from their homes.

George Colson with the American Red Cross responded to the RV park and began assessing the needs of the affected families.

After speaking with Hooper, it was determined that one family would need to be placed in a hotel for the night, Colson said.

“I’m going to go ahead and arrange to have them put in a hotel room for at least tonight,” he said, “until we can figure out the situation, and then go from there.”

Two other families were able to make arrangements to stay with relatives.

Questar Gas and St. George Power were also called in to check electrical and gas lines for damage and to secure the utilities, Hooper said. Once repair crews arrived, power was turned off and the natural gas lines were closed to those homes affected to prevent further damage or gas leaks.

Taking extra precaution is important, Hooper said. With the amount of moisture in the soil now and even more rain expected over the next 24 hours, Hooper said, it may not be the end of the situation for the homes at risk.

“It could push these homes several feet, possibly even out into the street,” he said.

A civil engineer will be called out Monday to assess the damage. No injuries were reported.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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