Landslides in Hamilton County continue to cause problems
Above normal rainfall in our area has triggered multiple landslides. One of those landslides demolished a Subway on Signal Mountain Road in February.
Although it has been drier recently, the movement of land continues.
Awardcountry.com, a Red Bank business on Dayton Boulevard across from the Ace Hardware, made it through the heavy February rain but was impacted by a landslide last week.
It started with a tree falling on Tuesday, and then a massive movement of mud and rocks fell Thursday night.
Dennis Hendrix, the president of Awardcountry.com, is not sure at this time how to move forward.
The break room on the back side of the building and parking lot were badly damaged by the landslide.
A structural engineer determined the building is safe, but it's still not clear what it will cost to clean up the mess.
Hendrix is one of multiple business owners in the Chattanooga area working through this after a handful of mudslides.
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If you are concerned about your home or business being near a steep slope, you should consult a geotechnical engineer to determine its stability.
There are several factors that make an area more susceptible to landslides. First is the force of gravity on a slope.
"The steeper the slope is, the greater the pull would be downward. That's what gravity does, and then on top of that the materials," explained Azad Hossain, Assistant Professor of Geology at UTC.
Other factors include the geology, soil type, vegetation, and proximity to groundwater.
The Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan lists landslides as a potential hazard in Hamilton County.
Professionals can determine if a slope is stable, but it's impossible to predict when one could fall. Rainfall often acts as a trigger.
"If we have prolonged rainfall, that makes the soil saturated, and on top of that the extra load of the water that is there triggers the slide," Hossain stated.
He said mapping past landslides helps identify areas that are susceptible for the future, and he and his students are working on a landslide database for Hamilton County. The most recent map was issued back in 1978, so they are working to add the landslides since then to a digital format.
Once they gather this information, they plan to model several landslide contributing variables.
"You have the model and you have the areas that are potentially susceptible for landslide, and then you add rainfall hypothetically on that and to simulate that area to see what amount of rainfall could cause a failure," said Hossain.
Their goal is to create a map, laying out the areas in Hamilton County most likely for landslide occurrence.
Hossain hopes to have the historical record landslide map out in the next few months. It would be available to the public through UTC's website.
As for the Awardcountry.com business on Dayton Boulevard, geologists and tree experts are working together to determine the next steps, while the business owner begins the process of filing an insurance claim.
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