Water leak at vacant property leads to landslide

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 9:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A water leak at a vacant property along Washington Street West on Charleston’s West Side could be a cause for Sunday’s landslide, West Virginia American Water said.

The water leak was reported last Tuesday, according to a statement from WVAW.

The leak at the vacant home caused neighbor Freda Bradley significant damage to her front lawn -- damaging the fences on her property, knocking over the retaining wall into the street. and turning off the gas.

“The retaining wall I had was laying in Washington Street and it had taken most of my white PVC fence with it,” Bradley said.

She said the city did an excellent job at responding and helping her get in contact with the proper agencies.

The Department of Highways said they handled the cleanup and will continue to monitor the area if there is more rain or the slide becomes worse.

Bradley said the leak began before last week, and she believes it started about three weeks ago. She said a few hours before it rained Sunday. she saw a large crack in the land on her property. She explained that it stretched across her entire property and was 2-feet deep.

“I came down into my yard, and there was a huge break in the yard and it looked like someone had dug there, and it went all the way across,” Bradley said.

In the statement, West Virginia American Water said the leak could be caused by water theft on the vacant property. A few hours after Bradley had seen the crack in her yard, she said she heard a knock on her door.

“About three hours later, I got a call from police. They said we are out on your front door; you have to come out and see,” she said.

This incident can be caused if the ground gets over-saturated by a water leak for too long.

WVAW said when a home is vacant, it’s harder to detect these leaks. Residents in the area said they had seen the leak for weeks too.

Nathaniel Buckhammer had also seen the leak. He said it’s caused the ground to soak in the area where the landslide happened.

“For about a week now, we have had a water leak and I don’t know if that is what has caused the road to cave out. The whole road has been soaked for a week now,” Buckhammer said.

Sunday’s rainfall did not help, saturating the soil so it couldn’t hold up anymore.

If more rain comes, it could bring down additional dirt at the site, according to crews.

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