Some Wyoming residents allowed back to slide zone

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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Several of the 60 or so people evacuated from a slow-motion landslide area in Wyoming can return home but won't have access to emergency services or trash pickup, town officials said Monday.

In addition, they won't be allowed to come and go in cars but will have to walk while town officials keep the neighborhood's only street closed and assess options for stabilizing the hillside.

"You can't rely on law enforcement, fire or EMS service in the area because the road will be closed to us as well," Jackson police Lt. Cole Nethercott said at a public meeting.

Town officials say they knew a year ago that the ground near the base of East Gros Ventre Butte was moving slowly. The pace picked up suddenly around April 4.

A large crack opened in the ground on the edge of the small hillside neighborhood that overlooks Jackson's main stretch.

The shifting earth snapped a water line and split the floor in a home atop the rift. The evacuation began Wednesday but the house remained the only structure damaged as of Monday.

However, the risk of sudden release — which a geologist estimated at 5 percent — has led authorities to close a drug store, two restaurants and a liquor store beneath the hillside. The shifting earth buckled a parking lot and a retaining wall.

The ground continued to move at a rate of about an inch per day, officials said.

"We are still seeing daily movement along numerous points we are surveying and measuring," Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Chief Willy Watsabaugh said at the meeting.

Four houses on the hill and two apartment buildings at its base will remain under an evacuation order, officials said.

The residents of about 10 other homes will be allowed to return starting Monday evening — but only by walking across private property next to the neighborhood.

They need permission to cross the property and must sign a legal waiver in case town officials can't assist during an emergency.

"It's fair to say it will be at least a few weeks this will be closed," Nethercott said about the street.

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