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Fort Washington Landslide Evacuees Decide To Go Home, Despite Safety Warnings

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WJZ) — Defying the government and maybe geology, some residents evacuated by a landslide in Prince George’s County are returning home.

Alex DeMetrick has the story.

Part of Piscataway Drive in Fort Washington is still closed off, following a slow motion landslide last month that prompted an evacuation of two dozen homes.

“Until we get this completely resolved,” said Ronnie Gill, Prince George’s County spokesman.

Residents have been kept out of their home for a month because a slope gave way, causing the road to drop four feet. Water has been cut off to their homes.

Prince George’s county inspectors say the area is still unsafe.

But after a month out of their homes, 14 homeowners are defying the county’s warning and returning to their homes.

Money is one reason.

“Your other alternative is to pay for a mortgage, taxes, insurance and rent somewhere else. So would I rather hike down a hill? Yeah,” one woman said.

While it’s an inconvenience to lose their road, a return is possible because of the installation of temporary water lines.

Power is still an issue for some, but most homes have not been damaged.

“Our house didn’t get one of those orange stickers where they say the house may be damaged or condemned, but we didn’t get one of those,” said Earl Donaldson, homeowner.

Underground clay saturated by heavy rains started the slide, and the risk is it could happen again.

“The clays really don’t dry out that fast. They don’t drain well. So once they become this muddy mess, they stay that way,” said Richard Ortt, Maryland state geologist.

The county served notices to those who have returned, warning emergency services will not be available and that people stay at their own risk.

Homeowners say the county is over-hyping the slide danger.

“It’s no more unsafe than it’s been for years,” said Daisy McClelland, homeowner.

And while it takes a walk, for some there’s no place like home.

Prince George’s County is currently studying three different fixes for the landslide area. Completing that work will take months.

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