Teetering on the brink: Riverdale landslide undermines first structure

Local News

RIVERDALE (ABC4 News) – A slow moving landslide that has threatened homes for over a year now has reached its first structure. 

The initial slide occurred on November 19th, 2017 and ever since then it has slowly crept closer to these four homes on 600 West.

One year ago Riverdale City forced the residents to abandon their homes and they’ve helplessly watched as their backyards have crumbled away foot by foot.

Sometime Friday night or Saturday morning the slide undermined the southwest corner of Louis Donovan’s detached garage just a few feet away from his house. Dave Morgan lives one house away to the north and says the slide is not only eroding the soil but these families’ life savings as well.

“It’s really sad,” Morgan told ABC4 News Monday. “I have known these people for quite a long time and I mean, they’re still paying their house payments and living with family. It is sad.”

Because the homes are still standing the owners are still responsible for making their mortgage payments and can’t collect insurance benefits. Geologists agree that the hill is sliding because it’s oversaturated but there’s a dispute whether the water is from natural springs or leaky underground pipes belonging to Riverdale or nearby Washington Terrace.

“The City is saying it’s all private property,” neighbor Brett Benegar said. “And the private property owners of course don’t have the wherewithall to do something to stop it so they’re kind of stuck not being able to do anything either so it just sits there and waits for nature to take its course and the hillside to fall…It’s made us a lot more nervous about what’s going to happen. Obviously our property values have been dramatically affected.”

“I don’t know if my house is going to be here in two years or six months or whatever,” Morgan said. “I just got to kind of look at it and say whatever happens happens you know. When it happens I’ll make a decision on what to do then.”

Donovan says the homeowners filed a Notice of Claims back in October and they plan to file a lawsuit against the city next week.

A voicemail message left for Riverdale City Administrator Rodger Worthen was not returned.

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