Geologist: Downpour on clay makes ground, house give way - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Geologist: Downpour on clay makes ground, house give way

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Few expected Friday's torrential flash-flood rain to take down a house. Few expected Friday's torrential flash-flood rain to take down a house.
Carroll County deputies and Emergency Management temporarily shut down the surrounding stretch of Kentucky 36. Carroll County deputies and Emergency Management temporarily shut down the surrounding stretch of Kentucky 36.
Matt Crawford Matt Crawford
Ed Webb Ed Webb

CARROLL COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - A University of Kentucky geologist said mudslides aren't unusual in north central Kentucky, but few expected Friday's torrential flash-flood rain to take down a house. Now, emergency officials believe the danger has eased, but not passed.

The neighbors weren't there when the earth moved and took the house that sat directly above them, on a ridge in the 1800 block of Kentucky 36, with it. But the lady who answered the door was clear about the future of their newly-purchased riverfront home.

"We're staying put," she said.

Investigators with the UK's Geological Survey bolstered their resolve Friday afternoon, declaring the house that slid appeared to have stopped moving by design.

"The house is sitting on a-bench-that was excavated to build that house," geologist Matt Crawford said. "So that is stopping the material."

For the moment, at least, but nobody in Carroll County knew that when the ground gave way around 7 a.m.

"I would ballpark it 75 feet across at the top and maybe a couple hundred feet long," Crawford said.

"This entire part of Kentucky is very susceptible to landslides," Crawford said. "Nothing new around here."

"I don't recall having a mudslide of this magnitude before," Carroll County Emergency Management Agency director Ed Webb said. "Not in my lifetime."

Webb and neighbor Bobby Brewer believe they know where the blame begins.

"The ground's saturated from the winter," Brewer said.

"Any time you've had the amounts of rain we've had recently," Webb added.

All striking soil that's mostly clay. "Clays swell when they get wet; they expand," Crawford said.

"We were lucky nobody was in the home," Carrollton resident Tracy Yocum said.

The owner said the home was a vacant rental property.

It was also lucky debris did not hit passing cars. To prevent that from happening Carroll County deputies and Emergency Management temporarily shut down the surrounding stretch of Kentucky 36. 

"That's the reason we're going to continue to check that area every couple of hours throughout the weekend," Webb said. "And we'll close the highway if the ground or the house move."

"A lot of people that would live in Trimble County, would have to go all the way around," Yocum said.

A second detour, on top of the30 minute re-route that the Milton-Madison bridge rework has created.

"We have to be safe," Webb said. "We're hoping the danger has passed."

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