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00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8dd70000In early October 2017, large cracks were spotted on the ground at Rattlesnake Ridge, a hillside about three miles south of Yakima, Washington. By January, the cracks had widened and emergency officials became concerned that a major landslide could imminent.Around 50 residents who lived on a small tract of land at the bottom of the hillside were evacuated and officials prepared for the worst.By the end of the month, geologists and engineers concluded that the landslide was a slow moving one and the risk of a major, catastrophic slide was low. Warning signs were taken down and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Residents Evacuated For Rattlesnake Ridge Landslide Can Go Back Home

Washington Department of Natural Resources
Rattlesnake Ridge sits above Interstate 82 and the Yakima River. More than a dozen trailer homes and houses sit on a sliver of land wedged between the slide and Interstate 82.

Starting Thursday, residents who were evacuated for the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide near Yakima, Washington, can go back home. That’s after a new study by a geology firm hired by the state said the slide could take years—or even decades—to come down.

The report says the chances of a fast moving landslide are slim and that the state should have adequate warning if things start to churn.

Now the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management has downgraded the evacuation level for the Rattlesnake Ridge slide.

There are more than a dozen trailer homes and houses on a sliver of land wedged between the slide and Interstate 82. Several people we talked to say they live there, right next to the quarry, because it’s the cheapest place they can find.

Some are now living in hotels, others have moved to more expensive homes in town.

Yakima County Emergency Management said they have a process in place if they need to evacuate the residents again. The agency said residents should be prepared at all times to leave quickly.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.