Flyover shows no slide hotspots

Jan 18, 2013
Photo by: Marc Pruett Heavy rains have undercut many paved roads in the county.

Snowfall overnight Thursday punctuated a week already saturated with rain in Western North Carolina, causing floods and mudslides throughout Haywood County.

While it’s nearly impossible to predict where a landslide will occur, Greg Shuping, emergency management director for the county, said there are trigger areas emergency crews always pay close attention to.

One of those is Rich Cove Road in Maggie Valley, where a landslide damaged homes and forced evacuation in 2010.

Part of that section did slide onto the road Thursday, but a sediment pond built by NCDOT three years ago helped prevent further sliding and it was quickly cleaned up by NCDOT crews.

When rain turned to sleet and heavy snow Thursday night, emergency officials opened an emergency shelter at the Department of Social Services for those who were displaced because of the weather.

Despite snowfall predictions of between three and 10 inches, most of the county only saw one to two inches.

Shuping got an areal view of the county Friday afternoon on a N.C. Highway Patrol helicopter, particularly looking for known mudslide areas in Maggie Valley and Waynesville.

He spotted at least eight that caused damage to roads, but, "None of them, in our opinion, are posing any imminent threats to other people, and that’s what I really wanted to know leading into the weekend," he said.

During the flyover, Shuping especially looked for trees, stumps or rocks damming up an area that could cause further sliding.

The good news, he said, is there is no sign of damming. However, the freeze/thaw effect over the weekend and into this week could still lead to slides.

Landowners are responsible for any damage from mudslides on private property, he said. While they are difficult to predict, there are some signs to look for that indicate a possible landslide.

Look for leaning trees and cracks in the soil, Shuping said, which indicate the ground underneath is loose.

On the bright side, this week is forecast for sunny weather, some days reaching the low 50s, which could help dry up the soggy terrain.

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