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The Oregonian

Sinkholes, slides endanger entire neighborhood in Tillamook

By Laura Gunderson | The Oregonian/OregonLive
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on December 13, 2015 at 7:00 AM, updated December 13, 2015 at 7:01 AM

Seven families in a cluster of hillside homes above the Tillamook River spent the past week watching the two roads they live on slip, buckle and tangle into a slide of rocks, mud and trees.

It began Monday as a few little cracks on Burton Hill Road, just outside Tillamook. By Wednesday the cracks had collapsed into a quarter-mile series of sinkholes and creeping mud that put three homes at risk, pushed a barn off its foundation and left homeowners fearful of what will move next.

As the rains continue, they say only one thing is clear:

No one is coming to the rescue.

Morgan Kottre, 27, said she and her neighbors – some of them relatives – have been told by county, state and federal officials that they don’t qualify for assistance because Burton Hill Road and the lower Hillside Drive are private roads on private land. Same story from at least one insurance company. Kottre said a representative told one family the devastation qualifies as an “act of god,” which the insurer doesn’t cover.

“In theory, we could try to fight it,” she said, “but right now we’re just trying to fight the land.”

Storms over the past week that have brought flooding and landslides across northwestern Oregon. On Saturday afternoon, blizzard conditions closed three highways in Southern Oregon. The extreme weather has caused at least two deaths in Oregon and federal officials set early damage estimates at about $15 million.

Tillamook County was among the 13 counties where Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency. In fact, not far from Kottre’s home on Saturday night, the town of Oceanside was cut off as the only road out of town was closed due to a failed culvert.

 

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