Officials in Jackson, Wyo., have evacuated a residential neighborhood below an unstable hillside that was threatening Thursday to give way.
About 60 to 80 people in 45 homes in the Budge Drive neighborhood were ordered to leave Wednesday night as officials said the slope’s movement was appearing to accelerate. There are also businesses along the Hillside Complex corridor that must remain closed.
“There is certainly the threat of a landslide,” Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson told NBC News on Thursday. “The information we got last night also indicated that the ground was moving beneath the ground and not just on the surface. We needed to evacuate people as a precaution.”
Robinson said the hillside isn’t as big as the slope in Oso, Wash., that unexpectedly collapsed March 22 and killed at least 36 people as some 10 million cubic yards of mud and debris plowed into homes.
“I don’t think there’s any kind of threat to loss of life, but there is a chance a portion of the hillside could slide down,” Robinson warned.
The hillside’s instability is being blamed, in part, on the large amount of snow that fell this year in Jackson, which is southeast of the popular Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Officials noticed the hillside moving four days ago when it caused a pump station on Budge Drive to shift, setting off a water main break, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office said.
Crews had to jackhammer through 18 inches of concrete to repair the leak. Engineers will continue monitoring the hill, and it wasn’t immediately clear when homeowners can return.
“Until we have a better handle on stabilizing the slope, [the evacuation] makes the most sense,” Town Manager Bob McLaurin said in a statement.