Tri-State among worst landslide areas in the US

CINCINNATI -- Last month, a landslide in Washington state took the lives of at least 33 people.

But Washington isn’t alone in dealing with this dangerous natural disturbance. Local experts say the Tri-State has one of the highest landslide rates in the country.

“(It’s one of the highest) in terms of metropolitan,” said Eric Russo, executive director of Cincinnati’s Hillside Trust. “We rank right now, I think, in top five of landslide areas throughout the entire United States.”

Hillside Trust is a private, non-profit organization that works to promote thoughtful use and preservation of the region’s hillsides.

Landslides are caused by disturbances in the natural stability of the Earth and usually follow heavy rains, droughts, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

Mudslides, a type of fast-moving landslide, develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground and results in a surge of water-saturated rock and debris. Mudslides usually start on steep slopes and can be activated by natural disasters.

This winter the Tri-State saw almost 47 inches of snow. Because of that, Russo said the ground is more susceptible to landslides.

“We have a combination of heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures,” he said. “The hillside is already saturated right now with a lot of runoff and precipitation from snowfall. (It’s) oversaturated.”

Beginning Tuesday, KY 8 will be closed daily for repair after a landslide damaged the roadway Friday.

“It seems like we regularly are fixing slides on that roadway,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 spokesperson Nancy Wood. “It’s an older road… If we would have built that road by today’s standard it would not have been built that way, but it’s still a road we maintain.”

In order to prevent landslides in the Tri-State, Russo said land is donated to Hillside Trust. That land is then preserved and cared for as permanent green space.

Hillside Trust maintains almost 300 acres in Northern Kentucky, Hamilton County and Clermont County. 

Russo said the organization is also a good resource for homeowners.

“We get a lot of calls right now this time of year with people asking what they can do and who they can call,” he said. “(They ask) what should they really do in terms of trying to address a landslide issue.”

Wood said it’s a good idea for drivers to be proactive when it comes to slide-prone areas.

“Just keep all distractions at a minimum,” she said. “If you’re behind the wheel, be safe… and we’re doing our part to try to keep the roadways safe.” 

With the rain continuing, we could see more landslides across the Tri-State.

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