Evacuated Fort Washington residents may have to wait months to return home

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WJLA) - Dozens of residents were forced out of their homes during the Fort Washington mudslide. On Thursday evening, they heard some sobering news during a packed meeting hosted by county officials.

"Simply put, there's no quick fix," said Darrell Mobley with the Department of Public Works and Transportation. "We have to prepare for the reality that we are talking in terms of months."

Consulting engineers, who have been performing tests for weeks, say that the ground is slowly moving – and state officials agree.

"This landslide that you are a part of is likely to continue," confirmed Richard Ortt with the Maryland Geological Survey.

The consultants’ preliminary report indicates intense rainfall over a short period of time, plus a clay susceptible to failure, caused the landslide. Currently, they have three solutions to stabilize the area, but county leaders insist that the fix is so complex – in part because much of the damage is on private property – that it will take months just to pick a solution and determine who will pay the bill.

"It's a huge disruption,” said impacted homeowner James Roy, who wants the county to move with a greater sense of urgency. "For us, it's all about time. Once you choose your plan, how fast can you get this done for us and get us back into our homes."

There is an additional worry. Several houses about a quarter-mile away are having minor erosion issues – including John Battersby’s property.

“I now have a two to three-foot wide stream suddenly showing up in my yard, flowing down."

County officials are now drilling for samples on those properties to see whether or not there is a link.