After the massive 15 county slope failures of September 2004, the North Carolina Geologic Survey began a landslide mapping study for the western region of the state. Western North Carolina has long been identified as a high risk natural landslide hazard zone but the catastrophic multi-county events of 2004 prompted greater scrutiny over the causes and effects of these disastrous occurrences.
In November 2005 Rick Wooten PG, a senior geologist with the North Carolina Geologic Survey, was asked to investigate earth movement at the Hunters Crossing residences in Waynesville, North Carolina. The property owners had noticed cracks in their basement walls and were observing growing fissures and crevices in their yards and parking areas. Studies show that this landslide is an active, very slow to slow, rotational weathered -rock slide, that encompasses a 1.5 acre of 65,000 cubic yards of completely decomposed rock that is moving downhill at the rate of inches per month.
Haywood County Hunters Crossing Property Condemned
This type of slide is identified as a Big Slow Mover and engineering reports indicate that this creeping earth movement cannot be controlled or stopped. The moving land is destroying two condominiums, affecting a third, and is damaging three homes at the base of the slope. The Hunters Crossing families have discovered that they own worthless assets. The state is unwilling to buy back their property and insurance policies exclude all damage caused by earth movement. It should be noted that if Haywood County had required site specific safety studies this mountain condominium complex would not have been developed.
All owners and prospective buyers of mountain slope property in Western North Carolina should be aware and seriously concerned that development permits for home sites and access roads do not require the proven safeguards of landslide mapping and site specific stability testing.
Haywood County Maggie Valley Landslide
On January 7, 2009 a Maggie Valley landslide demolished the home of Bruce and Lorraine Donin.
For unbiased information about the dangers of Western North Carolina landslides please contact the North Carolina Geological Survey.