Landslide forces Wash. residents to evacuate island

(CBS News) The shifting coastline of Whidbey Island continues to threaten residences and vacation homes on the island after a landslide struck early Wednesday. The soil remains so unstable Thursday morning that authorities are unable to assess the extent of the damage and remain unsure of when -- of if -- residents will be able to return to their homes.

Whidbey Island resident Delia Curt told CBS affiliate KIRO, "I thought it was an earthquake when I heard it."

Despite the dramatic images of seaside devastation, no one was injured, in large part because many of the homes are vacation homes.

One man had to be evacuated in an all-terrain vehicle after his home was knocked off its foundation and surrounded by dirt. Eleven others residents were evacuated by boat when the only road out was buried. Other evacuees quickly packed up what they could carry and left.

Watch: Aerial footage of Whidbey Island landslide
Landslide threatens Wash. neighborhood

Eric Brooks, the Deputy Director of Whidbey Island County Emergency management said, "It's gonna be a while before this stabilizes and we're going to be able to work on clearing the road."

Geologists say the area is prone to landslides because the gravel in the soil can make the cliffs unstable. Whidbey Island fire chief said, "We don't have a specific cause of this particular event, but again, a mixture of soil conditions and water."

For her part, Delia Curt will evacuate as her house looks poised to fall into the sea.

"I'm thinking I'll get my personal stuff out, the most important things out," Curt said. "My animals. And you start all over again."

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