City and landslide experts plan for worst case scenario
UNION GAP, Wash. - Over 70 GPS monitoring sites are placed throughout the landslide to keep track of which direction it's moving and how fast.
Right now geologist say the slide is currently moving in the southern direction. Union Gap City Manager Arlene Fisher says the risk of the landslide affecting locals living in Union Gap is small, but they are planning for the worst.
"Should something fall in a westerly direction and worst case scenario block the Yakima River, our first plan of attack would be all the low lying areas in the city of Union Gap," said Fisher.
Fisher says if the landslide were to move, based on current monitoring information, a million cubic yards will land in the quarry, and anything beyond that should also slide in southern direction.
"We are working on plans this week, just to get notifications out to those folks should this happen. We've already got meetings scheduled with residents this week to talk about the 'what-if's,'" said Fisher.
All 67 locals living right next to the landslide have evacuated as of this weekend and are staying in hotels. On Monday, Yakima Emergency Management have been looking for temporary homes all of their pets. 120 chickens, 10 dogs, two horses, one duck and two turkeys to be exact.
"We've never had to deal with that type of animal evacuation before. We have places for them to go, so we're working on the logistics of that today so that people don't have to worry about their animals safety," said Horace Ward, Public Information Officer, Yakima Emergency Management.
Geologist say the rate of the slide is still moving at about one and a half feet per week. Faster movement of the landslide is now expected to happen in February, but depending on the rate of the landslide, geologist say it could change.
"If the rate increases, that number should move towards this month, but if it slows down, it may go into February. It's a pretty big window because landslides are really hard to predict," said Stephen Slaughter, Landslide Hazard Program Manager, Department of Natural Resources.
The Yakima and State Department of Emergency Management, and other agencies are looking into long term housing for the people affected if the projection date keeps extending.