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Yeager Airport landslide a slow-motion disaster

Charleston Gazette photo provided by Yeager Airport In this photo, provided by Yeager Airport, airport personnel perform regularly scheduled inspections on the troubled EMAS bed. The man-made slope that supported the bed collapsed in a landslide in March.
Charleston Gazette photo provided by Yeager Airport
In this photo, provided by Yeager Airport, airport personnel perform regularly scheduled inspections on the troubled EMAS bed. The man-made slope that supported the bed collapsed in a landslide in March.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The man-made slope at Yeager Airport that collapsed in a massive landslide seven weeks ago, destroying a church and two homes and ultimately damaging 10 others, had slippage problems going back at least five years.

Those problems accelerated during the past 20 months, as airport officials and contracted engineers monitored the increasingly unstable slope, exchanging worried emails and potential solutions. The slow-motion disaster culminated in the hillside’s collapse March 12. More than 130 people were evacuated due to the slide, and five families remain homeless, staying in hotels.

More than five years ago, airport officials found sand and silt — materials known as “fines” — collecting in a drainage gutter near the bottom of the slope, airport Director Rick Atkinson said Friday. They called Triad Engineering, the firm that designed the slope, to come check it out.

Triad came to inspect it and responded, exactly five years ago today…

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