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28 Md. Homes Evacuated After Landslide

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WJZ) — Weather and geology don’t always mix. There have been a number of landslides recently throughout Maryland.

Alex DeMetrick reports on the most recent one, where homes are at risk.

You can follow the shear line where a slope in Prince George’s County slid downhill but you have to stand back to get the idea of the size of this slide, which started small on Piscataway Drive in Fort Washington last Friday. By Monday afternoon, evacuations were ordered.

“And we’re still urging residents to seek other locations until we can get this completely resolved,” said Prince George’s County Emergency Management Director Ronnie Gill.

Twenty-two homes have been declared unlivable because utilities like electricity and water were lost. Those homeowners can come and go but they can’t stay overnight.

“We just have to wait and it’ll probably be two weeks before we can get water, if we can get it then,” said homeowner Rita Donaldson.

“The people who should be most worried are two or three houses that way at the highest part of the ridge where it all came down,” said homeowner Earl Donaldson.

A total of six homes closest to the slide are considered unsafe until building inspectors clear them and the slope stabilizes.

This slide may have hit out of the blue but it had nothing to do with fair weather. Last week’s torrential rain was the most likely trigger. Slope collapses have been appearing throughout Maryland ever since, as water soaks down below the surface, lubricating what lies beneath.

“Your clays slide on top of each other and as they slide on top of each other, there’s no more force holding them together,” said DNR State Geologist Richard Ortt.

“I’ve lived here for 40 years and this is an incredibly sad thing,” said Rita Donaldson.

Right now, it’s estimated it could take months to stabilize the slope, provided heavy rains don’t complicate the job.

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