Evacuations eased for those near slipping Wyoming hillside

JACKSON, Wyo. — The odds are low for a catastrophic collapse of an unstable hillside in the northwest Wyoming resort town of Jackson, a landslide expert said.

George Machan, who works for Landslide Technology in Portland, Ore., gives less than a 5 percent chance that the hillside will completely fail.

“I can’t rule out that there will be a big lurch, but it’s not likely,” Machan said Thursday.

The high-risk area for a landslide is about the size of two football fields and is located along the town’s main thoroughfare outside the historic downtown area.

With the March 22 landslide that killed at least 35 people in Washington state fresh in everyone’s mind, authorities evacuated about 60 people from several homes, businesses and four apartment complexes.

The assessment from Machan determined that only one unoccupied home, a restaurant and a pharmacy were most in danger. However, residents of the apartment complexes were still being kept from returning home until further assessments could be made Friday.

“It’s not as scary as it was yesterday I don’t think,” Roxanne DeVries Robinson, assistant town manager, said Friday. “It’s still moving slowly, but the imminent catastrophic scare is not as great.”

Despite the new information on the slide, a lot of surveying and measuring still must be done to figure out its exact size and speed, Town Manager Bob McLaurin said.

“We’ve got to map the limits of this slide, understand what we’re dealing with,” McLaurin told the Jackson Hole News &Guide.

The shifting hillside has caused visible cracks, stretched power lines, buckled pavement and damaged homes.

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