Geologists and engineers are assessing the stability of a scenic Puget Sound area after a large landside thundered down a hillside, knocking one house off its foundation and threatening others. That heavily damaged home and 33 others were ordered evacuated after the landslide broke loose yesterday in the Ledgewood community on Whidbey Island, about 50 miles north of Seattle. No one was injured; one man escaped from the damaged home and was evacuated by rescuers in an ATV.
Residents of about 15 homes higher up the hillside were allowed to return last night, but officials remain concerned about at least two of the remaining homes, which are still evacuated. One resident says he heard a noise that was "like an earthquake, it rattled the whole house." He took a flashlight to the backyard facing the water and found that 20 or more trees had vanished. His flashlight battery died; when he returned with a new flashlight, he told local media, "where I had been standing was no longer there." Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lives in the area, but his property was not threatened by the slide. (Read more landslide stories.)