Landslides can be caused by several factors, such as water saturation,
slopes becoming steeper due to construction or erosion, freezing and thawing of land,
shaking from earthquakes and their aftershocks, and volcanic eruptions.
Gravity is the enemy during any kind of land movement.
Landslides can be slow or fast moving, depending on the area and weather related
or manmade factors.
Landslides usually happen after periods of heavy water saturation.
Flooding often occurs.
In recently burned area, it does not take much water to start a landslide.
Mudslides, also known as mud flows or debris flows, are fast moving landslides.
They typically occur after heavy rains or snow that melts quickly.
They are usually associated with area with steeper terrain.
Mudslides start out as shallow landslides, and with the help of gravity, gather debris
and gain speed quickly.
The consistency of a mudslide varies from watery mud to very thick mud to rocky mud
depending on whatever is in its path.
Depending on the terrain, separate mudslides can merge together, and pick up speed,
gathering any debris in its path.
It is not uncommon for mudslides to pick up rocks, boulders, trees, even cars.
The more debris picked up along the way, the faster the flow, thus causing more havoc.
When the flow hits flatter land, the debris spreads out, and can cause widespread destruction.
Most people think of landslides or mudslides in hilly or mountainous area,
especially after a heavy rain follows a fire.
There is no vegetation to hold the water and mud and debris back.
However, one example associated with volcanic activity is Mount Saint Helen in Washington state. This caused one of the largest debris flows on record.
Another example happened in California along the Pacific Coast Highway.
When a mudslide came to the bottom of a hillside, it wiped out the town of La Conchita
and part of Pacific Coast Highway.
Areas with a history of previous landslides, developed hillside areas, the bases of steep slopes,
areas where leach field septic systems are used, the bases of drainage channels
(natural or man-made), are all prone to landslides.
Mudslides are a disaster that happens in all states.
To find out how susceptible you are in your area,
you can contact your local university's department of geology,
your local or state geological society or department of natural resources.
If you live in an area prone to slides, watch for storm water drainage on slopes near your home.
Keep track of the places where water runoff comes together, or where the flow of water
increases its flow over well covered slopes.
Always check for signs of land movement on any hillside around your home,
such as small landslides or trees that tilt and falling rocks.
Planning for a Landslide or Mudslide
► If you live in an area prone to mudslides, talk to your Insurance agent about insurance.
Through the National Flood Insurance Program, flood insurance may cover Debris flow from a slide.
► Have an Evacuation Plan.
Discuss this plan along with your other Disaster Plans with all of the family.
Everyone should know what to do in a Disaster situation, whether they are home or not.
Discussions and planning help to reduce the fear levels when responding to an emergency.
Have your Disaster Supplies and Emergency Kits ready!
Protect your Property Before a Storm
► You can contact private consulting company who specializes in earth movement
for opinions and advice on problems and how to solve them.
Look for Geo technical engineering, structural engineering, civil engineering.
Trying to fix problems without professional advice could make the problem worse
and cause more of a risk to you and your family and your property.
► The use of flexible pipe fittings can help you avoid water or gas leaks
since they are less likely to break.
► Knowing what land issues are in your area, and what landslides have happened in the past,
can help you to assess your risk for future problems and future danger.
► Watch for any activity around your property: any land movement or small slides,
any pooling of water or tilting trees or out structures.