UPDATE | Neighbors worry as eyesore homes continue to slide down hill

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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 6/14/19 @ 5:45 p.m.
There are two homes that are impossible to miss as you drive by on Idle Acres Road.

Two houses damaged by flooding continue to deteriorate on Idle Acres Road in Cabell County, West Virginia.

We showed you on Sept. 10, 2018, when the first literally slid off its foundation because of flooding. Next door, it was a race against time for Nicole Johnson’s family trying to get their possessions out before it was too late.

Nine months later, things are even worse.

The properties are targets of an upcoming lawsuit between the property owner and the insurance company.

But the county is limited in what it can do, and neighbors like Jessica are worried they're next.

"It's nerve-wracking," she said. She didn’t want to give her last name because of privacy issues. "Yeah, even when it's not raining. When the wind blows, I think 'Oh gosh, my house is going to go next.’ "

Her kids play in the field between the two, but the mailbox is the limit.

"I wish they would tear them down,” Jessica said. “You can tell things have gotten worse."

Things have gotten worse at her home, too, especially when she looks at old photos of her house. The driveway and yard looks like they are sinking. The front porch slab is caving in the middle, and it got a lot worse when they tried to power wash it this spring.

"It’s always been cracked, but it's getting worse,” Jessica said. “It's the ground underneath giving in. It’s not the landlord's fault. It's nature."

As bad as the homes are, because they're outside city limits, the county can't compel the property owner to do anything.

But the owner is.

He declined to be interviewed, but his attorney David Duffield tells us a lawsuit will be filed against the insurance company next week which denied coverage. They're seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Duffield adds, in 32 years of practice, he’s never lost an insurance coverage case and said, in this case, the company is “dead wrong.”

Still Jessica wishes she didn't have to live next to a pair of eyesores and tempting dangers for her kids.

"It's sad. Just because you live outside city limits, you can't have anything done,” she said.

Duffield hopes things will be resolved and the houses will be removed within the next 12 months.

Nicole Johnson, the woman who had to evacuate so quickly, was not available Friday. But she told us, she and her family were moved into a house down the street and it still gives her chills when she drives by. But everyone is doing great, well-adjusted and likes their new home.



UPDATE 9/10/18 @ 5:52 p.m.
Two families were forced to find a new home Monday morning. One couple lost almost everything as our camera caught video of their home sliding off its foundation. The one next door is very unstable along Idle Acres Road, about 20 minutes south of Huntington off Green Valley Road.

In that second home, it was a race against time Monday morning for Nicole Johnson.

"It's a person's worst nightmare," she said. “You don’t expect it to happen to your stuff.”

Johnson as well her husband and her landlord were saving what they can, passing things through the window.

"Your heart is just racing,” she said. “You just want to take everything all at once and come out of the house but you can't."

Meanwhile, the gaping hole under their house is getting bigger.

The first warnings were loud thuds Sunday night, as well as Johnson’s doors not closing. She thought it was because of all the humidity.

She didn't know they were cinder blocks falling, right under her son's bedroom.

"I want to cry honestly. It scares me because he was sleeping with all the rain coming."

After getting her kids on the bus, she later saw her own foundation cracks and began the frenzied move-out, all the while hearing more thuds.

"I don't know if that was the neighbor's house or our house but I didn't want to stick around to find out."

The rain keeps coming Monday.

Johnson's neighbors first noticed erosion in their yard and left for the night. They came back and could only embrace each other.

A broken water line spraying by their front door and back door hanging wide open are the least of the problems.

They declined to speak with us.

"I feel so bad for them,” Johnson said. “There's no words to make it better."

Her neighbors risked their own lives for their cats. Two were pulled to safety.

For other neighbors like Mike Moore along Idle Acres, there’s a feeling of helplessness.

"We're on a flatter hill but that doesn't mean anything,” he said. “The ground gave out here. It could go out anywhere."

The items most valuable to Johnson are the memories that can't be replaced in the form of photo albums, including one with her as a baby and her grandmother. Other valuables are the ones of her kids even though they will be coming home in just a few hours.

"They're my kids. They're my life. Pictures live on."

But her home on Idle Acres, the place she was hoping to make more memories, is not.

She had just moved in less than a year ago, excited to finally be living in a house.

The same landlord owns both buildings and is moving both the Johnsons and the other couple into other rental properties. He said he has owned both homes for close to five years.



ORIGINAL STORY 9/10/18
One house is a total loss and another is very unstable after heavy rains moved through Cabell County.

People living at a home along Idle Acres noticed their yard moving Sunday night. They decided to leave the home overnight. Thankfully, they were not home when the house began to collapse.

Next-door, the people renting the home had trouble even closing their doors. They thought it was just extreme humidity from the rain. Then, they started to hear noises coming from their neighbor's home. That's when they finally noticed their house was collapsing too. Afraid to go back inside, they were able to save some items by reaching through the windows.




 
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