Landslides in Asheville, NC On the Rise Due to Record Rains
Melting ice caps are a pretty undeniable sign that the climate is changing. But you don’t have to travel to distant regions of the world to witness the effects of global warming.
In fact, residents of Asheville, NC don’t have to travel at all.
By August of this year, the city had received more than 65” of rain – a record that has stood unbroken since 1973. And much of that rain fell during January, which is typically one of the driest times of the year.
Similar downpours hit cities as far away as Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Huntsville. In fact, according to Weather.com, on January 17, 2013, approximately 120 river gauges from Louisiana to Ohio were at or above flood stage.
But a little water never hurt anyone, right?
You’d think that given North Carolina’s robust agricultural economy, residents would be thankful for the rain – especially at a time when so much of the Midwest experienced devastating droughts during the same period (yet another sign of climate change).
But far from bringing relief, this unprecedented rainfall has brought a record number of landslides to Asheville and much of North Carolina. This year alone, the damage has been extensive enough to warrant city council meetings and comprehensive ecological surveys.
The True Cost of Landslides – in Money and Lives
Because Asheville’s landslide season is only just now ending, it’s too soon to give accurate property damage assessments. But here are some national statistics that illustrate how destructive landslides truly are:
- annual monetary losses (property damage, roads, etc.) range between $2 billion and $4 billion
- as many as 50 people are killed in the US every year from landslides
- the most expensive landslide repairs in US history were in Thistle, Utah (1984). Adjusted for inflation, the cleanup efforts cost $400 million in 2010 dollars.
Protecting Yourself and Your Property from Landslides
The news is bad. And as climate change, heavy rain, and soil erosion all become worse, you can expect the number of landslides to increase… and become more unpredictable.
So what steps can you take to protect yourself?
Well – obviously, stay abreast of weather reports and avoid areas that have recently experienced heavier than normal rain.
But what about your home or business? It’s one thing to remove yourself from harm’s way, but you can’t really relocate existing structures.
Honestly, there aren’t many steps you can take to completely shield your home or business from sliding debris.
You can, however, reinforce your property’s foundation – even in areas where soil erosion is a major problem. By strengthening the underlying support, you can limit the damage that future landslides pose to your residential or commercial property.