Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Strike Two—Ocoee Gorge Rockslide Closes U. S. Highway 64

For those who missed the national news, here is the real-time video of the November 10, 2009 Tennessee Ocoee Gorge rockslide.

Since late October, rockslides have closed two primary connectors between western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The Pigeon River Gorge I-40 rockslide severed the route between Asheville, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee. The Ocoee Gorge U. S. 64 rockslide blocks access into Cherokee, North Carolina.

Sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina have also been affected by unstable slope conditions.

This season's rockslides have so far only hit public roads. Because memories fade, the news media has not linked current events to those of September 2004. Five years ago rain set off landslides in 15 western North Carolina counties which resulted in two federal disaster declarations. Those wide-spread slope failures claimed lives and cost homeowners millions of dollars in property losses. Caveat: Homeowners nationwide have to self-insure for landslide damage: policies do not cover this peril.

For the usual profit-driven reasons, North Carolina legislators are adverse to publicizing the fact that steep slope home sites and subdivision private streets are threatened by the same conditions that brought down two mountainsides. By intent, conveyance documents such as sales contracts and Subdivision Street Disclosure Statements fail to reveal the high costs of western North Carolina mountain real estate.

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