Printed on: April 14, 2014

Wyoming hillside slipping, but not gaining speed

Associated Press

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - An unstable hillside has continued to move since it forced dozens from their homes last week in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson over the slim but persistent risk of a sudden landslide, but the shifting was not accelerating, authorities said Sunday.

"Basically, the movement is remaining fairly constant," incident spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said. "So we're having to monitor our excitement, but it is still moving so it is obviously still a concern."

Geologists and others are watching the hill's movement with the help of ground monitoring equipment. A geologist has put the risk of sudden collapse at just 5 percent. So far, only one unoccupied home, which is directly atop the slide zone, has sustained damage.

About 60 people haven't stayed at their homes since Wednesday. Officials say the move was a precaution in the wake of Washington state's deadly landslide and was also tied to damage of the only access road.

The unstable hillside is about the size of two football fields and is along a main artery outside the historic downtown area.

Reynolds said some residents outside the highest-risk area were thinking about returning to their homes and apartments despite the evacuation order. But she said she wasn't aware of anyone actually doing so. Residents are allowed escorted access to their homes to check on them and pick up personal belongings, but no one is allowed to stay overnight.

"The evacuation order remains in place, and officials strongly encourage residents to adhere to that evacuation order," Reynolds said.

As long as the hill continues to show movement, residents should stay out of their homes even though only one unoccupied house is within the area considered to be most at risk, Reynolds said.

Displaced residents have been staying in motels and with friends.

The Red Cross was expected to open a shelter Sunday evening.

At the foot of the slide zone, two restaurants, a liquor store and a just-built Walgreens remain closed amid the risk of a sudden hill collapse.