LANDSLIDE ON WHIDBEY ISLAND

      A chunk of Whidbey Island off the coast of Washington slid into water early thursday morning, forcing the evacuation of 34 homes. At one home at the new cliff edge, a steady stream of soil can be seen leaking out from beneath the building. Authorities are continuing to monitor a house where there’s still slide activity, as dirt continues to slough off the cliff, said Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin. Fire and Rescue went to a home around 4 a.m. this morning in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Wash., to find it had been pushed off its foundation. Hartin told ABCNews.com that when he arrived, the home was already a considerable distance down the cliff by the water. The landslide stretched across 400 to 500 yards and the earth dropped 600 to 700 yards down to the water, reported ABC’s Seattle affiliate KOMO, with trees and tons of dirt smashing into homes down below and wiping out a road.

      Somehow no one was injured. Hartin said rescuers used ATVs to reach the home that had slid down the cliff. He said the residents had escaped before the cliff dropped. Of the 34 homes being evacuated, 17 are below the cliff and were isolated, cut off from the rest of the island by tons of rock, dirt and tress and wiped out the road as well as electrical and water connections, said Hardin. Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said these residents of these homes are being evacuated by rescue boats to a temporary shelter. Another 17 homes on the top of the cliff are also being evacuated, as many residents lost portions of their waterfront property to the landslide, said Hartin. “Where the soil dropped, it forms a sheer cliff,” said Brown. “At the top of that cliff, you’ve got people’s backyard that went from 60 feet to now 10 feet.” Whidbey Island is one of two islands in Island County, Wash. The area is home to a mix of both year-long residents and vacation home owners. “Landslides are not a total uncommon event on the island,” Hartin said.

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