Man Made Failures: Preparation and Maintenance

The more recent dramatic incidents are good studies in over development, poor understanding of water as it flows through the earth and failures to spend the appropriate resources on maintenance and upkeep. These failures underscore the lack of proper education into the nature of water based erosion.

What's the big deal about water based erosion?
Water is crafty, sneaky and never sleeps. A small drip changes to a torrent in the blink of an eye. A good example can be seen in the 2008 hillside collapse on a south west Portland, Oregon hillside.

Early in October of 2008, the collapse of a hillside led to the condemning of six houses and the destruction of a neighbourhood. The event happened so quickly that the first house to fall came completely off of its foundation and started sliding down the hill into the next house. Not unlike a set of dominoes, they all fell down.

Comments from residents at the bottom of the hill seem to indicate that there was water running down their driveways the day before. While not uncommon in Portland, it was a clear day. This should have raised one or two flags in the minds of the residents of this area. Awareness is key as the effects of water based erosion can be slow or hidden from view.

In the end analysis, the slide appears to have been caused by high rain, steep slopes and a new sprinkler system that may have been improperly installed or damaged. The indicators were present though, higher water consumption and running water should have been noted by the home owners in the neighbourhood.


  1. Here's a follow up to this news item...

    PORTLAND, Ore. – Jurors will keep deliberating the case of a woman suing her insurance company over a West Hills landslide that destroyed her home in 2008.

    Kathei Hendrickson barely made it out of her home alive when it slid down the hill in Southwest Portland.

    The landslide that swept Hendrickson's home down a hillside in southwest Portland took just 20 minutes to turn her house to rubble.

    Now, well over a year later, Hendrickson sits in a Multnomah County Court, suing Farmers Insurance Company for denying her claim.

    Four days of trial testimony is now in the hands of the jury.

    Neighbors say the devastating landslide was nothing compared to what Kathei has endured from her insurance company since the slide.

    “I just feel like it's a travesty,” neighbor Michelle Becker told KATU News. “I really believe that they had a viable claim against their insurance company and that it should have been filled in the first couple months.”

    Hendrickson’s attorney believes the case turns on what triggered the massive slide. No one was hurt in the slide.

    “I think the critical issue in this case is was there, or was there not, earth movement and that's what the jury will be deciding,” said attorney Robert Bonaparte, who is representing Hendrickson.

    Hendrickson’s attorney says the insurance document is very lengthy - 42 pages long - the kind of document any homeowner would have a difficult time understanding.

    Farmers maintains that exclusions written into that policy – which it calls "protector plus" – mean it shouldn't have to pay for the damage.

    However, as the judge swore in the clerk overseeing jury deliberations, a Burlingame Place neighbor Michelle Becker said she believes the maze of strange exclusions surrounding the case should worry any homeowner.

    “I can't even comprehend how they could sell earthquake insurance to them, and then exclude earth movement,” Becker said. “It makes no sense.”

    Hendrickson said Farmers Insurance should pay for her $680,000 house, lost possessions and repairs to make her land buildable again.

    Attorneys for Farmers Insurance declined to talk with KATU News.


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