Is your home susceptible to landslides?

The intense rains and floods set off a series of landslides around Oregon

A Tillamook road turned into an isolated cliff after heavy rains sparked a landslide last week. (Facebook)
A Tillamook road turned into an isolated cliff after heavy rains sparked a landslide last week. (Facebook)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The intense rains and floods set off a series of landslides around Oregon, and with more rain coming, more landslides are likely.

But what should homeowners — or potential homeowners — look at to see if their house is in a slide area?

PSU geologist Scott Burns has co-authored a Homeowners Guide to Landslides, used by FEMA to help people across the country. He said the best first way to check is to walk around the land and looks for cracks in the ground parallel to the slope.

Homeowners should also look for a scarp, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a line of cliffs produced by faulting or erosion; a low steep slope along a beach caused by wave erosion.”

A Merriam-Webster graphic showing a what a scarp is (the area underneath the number 2)
A Merriam-Webster graphic showing a what a scarp is (the area underneath the number 2)

It’s also a good idea to examine the foundation inside the house. Check for a pattern of multiple organized cracks that could be a sign of land movement below. Check the walls and the chimney for parallel cracks.

Outside, homeowners should take note of what is above the house. If it’s near a hillside, notice signs of land movement in the past.

An online database covering statewide landslide information in Oregon has landslides that have been identified on published maps. This database is also searchable by address.

Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover landslide damage.

If you’re really concerned, it may be worth the investment to have a certified geo-technical engineer or engineering geologist to look at the property to spot signs of trouble.

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