COUPEVILLE, Wash. -- Fire officials said five homes appeared to be in the most immediate danger due to a massive landslide near Coupeville. The properties are located on Driftwood Way and Fircrest Avenue. Authorities warned people to stay out of that area Thursday night.
Earlier Wednesday thirty-five homes were either under evacuation orders or had been cut off from the rest of Whidbey Island by the 1,000-foot landslide.
A geological crew from the State Department of Natural Resources is on the scene trying to assess the damage.
The Ledgewood neighborhood is ground zero for what some said sounded like a sonic boom.
“The ground shook. It was like an earthquake,” said Bret Holmes.
Holmes’ parents once owned the hillside home with a majestic view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. His family has lived in this neighborhood for generations. The house is now on the brink of being lost forever.
“It makes me want to throw up,” he said, packing his belongings into a garage. “We lost half of the back yard all at once. Fifteen trees. And we’ve lost another 25 feet since then. I’m just worried none of it will be here when I get back.”
The slide obliterated the hillside at about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday. It took with it a home being rented by an 81-year-old cancer patient. Friends say he felt the ground starting to shake and moved to his truck shortly before the earth gave way, shoving the house about 150 feet off its foundation. It sits perched on a heap of trees and earth, the floor fallen out and the contents of the house strewn below.
A two-lane road in the neighborhood was wiped out and pushed 300 feet down the slope. Seventeen homes remain cut off from the community. Among them is the one owned by Teresa Levack-Norgaard. She lost one house to fire about 10 years ago. Her husband passed away as well.
Now, forced to evacuate with nothing but a suitcase, her son and their dog, she has nowhere to go. The hillside just beyond her front yard continues to crumble.
“I'm really nervous,” she said, suitcase in hand. “This is all we have.”
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has a house near the slide zone. It was not damaged, but the property was used by firefighters to help evacuate some of those stranded below.
State geologists say it will likely be at least two or three days before they will be able to determine when it will be safe for homeowners to return.
KING 5's Eric Wilkinson and Natalie Swaby contributed to this report.