Roanoke County is moving to raze a mountainside home that was knocked off its foundation when a mudslide hit last spring.
The house, located on Toddsbury Drive just east of Vinton, was destroyed one year ago Saturday when heavy rains and an already fragile slope appeared to combine to send a wave of mud skidding into the back of the structure.
The two-story brick house was pushed forward about 20 feet by the weight, officials said. Parts of the building collapsed or were ripped open.
No one was injured. The residents, a couple and their young son, were home at the time but managed to crawl out safely.
“They were very happy to be alive,” said Tarek Moneir, acting head of development services, who was among the county authorities who responded to the mudslide.
Since then, the county has been continuously monitoring the site and working with the owners, who officials said ultimately concluded they couldn’t afford the hefty cost required to fix the damage.
The county resolved to step in and demolish the remains of the house. That work is expected to get underway next month.
Once cleared, the 1-acre property will be stabilized and reseeded with grass.
Vinton District Supervisor Jason Peters, who’s also been monitoring the property, said he was glad to see the plan moving forward. During a recent community meeting, he reassured neighbors that the county was committed to getting the site cleaned up.
“We all want to make sure it’s taken care of,” he said. “We’re going to do what we’ve got to do.”
The process has taken longer than officials initially hoped, Peters added, but the final work will be done well and safely.
Moneir said the decision to proceed with demolition was originally made last year but the process was extended by the need to hire a geotechnical expert to assess the site.
The county has been regularly inspecting the site and detected no further movement in the slope or the house. But officials said a more detailed analysis was required to determine how to best approach the demolition.
Adverse weather, including repeated rains that made for a record-setting year in the region, also slowed that technical analysis.
The county went in and did interim work to ensure the site remained stable and to control any silt runoff.
Neighbors, who’ve been kept updated on the county’s plans, welcomed the news that the demolition work was nearing.
Tommy FiGart, who lives next door, said he was stunned when he returned from a trip and saw what remained of his neighbor’s home.
A mudslide this damaging is exceedingly rare locally. Moneir said it was the first such case he’s had in his 13 years with the county.
“You just don’t think about it happening here,” FiGart said, adding his heart goes out to the family displaced.
The county is in the process now of finalizing arrangements with a demolition contractor. A recently completed bidding process returned a low bid of about $101,000.
In all, the county expects to end up spending about $160,000 on the property, including prior work and the need to continue retaining a geotechnical specialist to monitor the site during the demolition.
A lien will be placed on the property to help the county recoup its costs.
The mudslide that devastated the house struck during the early morning hours of May 18, 2018. A torrent of rain had been falling over the region.
The steep backslope of the property on Toddsbury Drive already had been showing signs of erosion. The owners had secured a work permit and were in the process of trying to stabilize the incline.
No other properties were damaged when the slope collapsed and slid forward.
The demolition of the now-shuttered house is expected to get underway promptly once the final work contracts are signed.
Depending on weather conditions, officials said, the work could be done in stages throughout the summer and wrap up in the fall.