Did you know that landslides cause up to 50 deaths every year in the United States?
It is worthwhile to know the facts and understand the risk factors.
Landslides consist of debris, soil, and rocks that descend on a slope. The term can include many types of ground movement, including mudflows and rockfalls. In most cases, standard homeowners insurance will not cover damage resulting from landslides.
In this article, you will learn about landslide risk areas and how to spot the early warning signs. Also, we will go over the basics of how to act during a landslide event in the Greater Dallas and Fort Worth area.
Which areas are more prone to landslides?
Some areas are more prone to landslides than others. This risk exists on both local and regional levels. Local risk areas include the following:
- Places with intense human activities, such as road construction, farming, and mining.
- Both deforestation and wildfires contribute to a higher risk of landslides.
- Areas on or at the base of drainage hollows and slopes.
- Hillsides that utilize leach field septic systems.
- Retainer wall failure.
What are the landslide red flags?
There are a few common red flags that indicate a landslide might occur.
Spotting strange bulges or fresh cracks in the ground, sidewalks, or retainer walls should serve as early warning signs.
Here are other signs you should keep an eye out for:
- Fences, telephone poles, and trees that have started to lean.
- Sunken roadbeds
- An unexplained decrease in creek water levels while it’s raining
- A sudden increase in creek water levels because of a soil build-up
- Decks and patios starting to move and shift their position
How to minimize landslide damages?
People living in an area prone to landslides can take precautionary action.
- Are you planning on building a new home in the Greater Dallas or Fort Worth area? Steer clear of steep slopes, natural erosion pathways, hill, drainage ways, and retainer walls. Building close to these places increases the risk of landslide damage.
- Install flexible pipe fittings for your gas and water lines. Flexible fittings have more resistance. However, keep in mind that the gas fittings can only be installed by a certified company representative. Flexible gas lines are now standard in the DFW area.
- Control runoff water. This water may be coming from your gutters, downspouts, or driveways. Ensure the water flows into drainage ways or storm drains. During a serious storm, these simple steps could make a significant difference.
- Understand slides better. The most common trigger of landslides is water. In most cases, the water triggers landslides after a few hours of extremely heavy rain. Likewise, the water may have accumulated after a few days of heavy rain. Another common scenario sees rapid snowmelt setting off landslides in the area.
- Assure that retainer walls are built with adequate drainage. This is typically drain pipes surrounded by gravel.
Retainer walls must be engineered. Typical construction is as follows:
Sloping land is backcut at no more than a 45-degree angle and sometimes even less. Backcut must be stable. Between backcut and wall, the fill should be clean granular material and rock.
The base of the wall should be 35 times wider than the top and may include a buried drain in addition to the drain pipes to prevent water back pressure and blow out.
The bottom line: is your home vulnerable to landslides?
Landslides may occur in all 50 states. Some regions are more prone to slides, including the Appalachian Mountains and the Pacific Coastal Ranges. Many human activities raise the landslide risk as well. The most common reasons are extensive construction, farming, mining, and high retainer walls.
Spotting landslide warning signs might signify that your home is vulnerable to landslides. In this case, consult with local officials and learn more about your situation. There might be concrete steps you can take to minimize the potential damage.