Whitley County officials hope they have corrected the cause of a mudslide on Ky. 26 near 3-Point late Thursday evening, which shut down the road for the better part of three days.
Whitley County Emergency Management Director Steve Schwartz said the slide was first reported by Sheriff’s Deputy Glenn Bunch about 11:22 p.m. Thursday, and that the road didn’t re-open again until about 5:15 p.m. Sunday.
“When it slid, it just came down trees and all. It came across the road, took out the power lines, and stopped traffic for several days,” Schwartz said.
He said this was the worst slide he has seen since 1998.
The slide knocked out electricity for about 100 homes until about 1:15 p.m. Friday. Cable was knocked out for nearly 1,000 cable customers at one point.
State highway department workers along with county road department crews worked around the clock to get the debris cleared using three dump trucks.
Schwartz said he’s not sure how many loads were taken, but that each truck hauled between 12 and 16 tons of mud and debris on each trip.
“They weren’t gone long. They were trying to make short hauls so they could get it out quick. It is hard to tell how much they took out,” Schwartz noted.
Schwartz said the removed mud was dumped in three locations, which needed fill dirt.
“It is really good top soil. We took it to a place near Hemlock, then we dumped some there at 3-Point, and we dumped some behind G&S Tires where they had been filling in,” Schwartz said.
In addition, state prisoners were used to cut up the downed trees into firewood that local residents then picked up.
Schwartz said he could remember at least two other mudslides in recent years in the same spot.
Schwartz said the slide was probably caused by a combination of two factors.
“From what I can tell, when they logged they cut a road, and it looks like it diverted the water,” Schwartz said. “There are old mines up there too. Some of it has been growing from the old mines, which were up there years ago.”
He said state highway workers used equipment to cut a water break on top of the hill to try and divert the flow of water back where it needs to go.
“We will just have to see if it worked. We may have to deal with it again later on,” Schwartz said. “We went down deep eight to 10 feet in places and maybe more. I think with the water diverted, the slides might stop for a while until we can get seeds sowed, and get the grass and what not back in there.”
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