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City responds to slide danger zone

'Highest priority now is the safety of our first-responders,' mayor says

Two mudslides early Friday morning in Lake Oswego injured five people and forced 28 persons to evacuate a total of 21 homes. (See related story).

The slides occurred on Green Bluff Drive and Woodhurst Place near Marylhurst University.

According to city of Lake Oswego officials, the slide 'appears to have originated from slopes above Green Bluff Drive in the Marylhurst area.'

'My first and deepest concern is for those injured in the landslide and those in the immediate area at the time of this incident,' said Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad. 'Our highest priority now is the safety of our first-responders and assessing conditions at the site of the slide in order to take appropriate actions, whatever those may be.'

The Lake Oswego Fire Department immediately evacuated 28 people from homes on Woodhurst Place and Brookhurst Drive. One home on Green Bluff Drive also was evacuated. Firefighters noted a strong odor of natural gas as mud continued to flow down Woodhurst Place.

By 11 a.m. Friday, emergency crews were allowing homeowners limited access.

Bonnie Hirshberger, citizen information coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego, said mid-day Friday that 'the landslide appears to have stabilized. Geotechnical professionals are currently conducting an investigation and evaluating apparent causes of the slide. They will also determine if further movement is likely at the site or if the slide can be stabilized.'

Mid-day Friday, evacuated homeowners were allowed limited access to houses at about 11 a.m. 'to go back in for 20 minutes to collect medication and anything critical that they might need,' according to Bonnie Hirshberger, citizen information coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego.

The Lake Oswego Fire Marshal's evacuation order was lifted early Friday eveningfor all involved properties (except 17661 and 17649 Woodhurst). Woodhurst Place has re-opened to residents only.

Green Bluff Drive remained closed Friday evening, but was expected to re-open on Saturday.

'We are also looking at some downed trees on Oak Street' south of McVey Avenue, said Hirshberger.

There is concern more mudslides could occur in that area.

Oak Street was closed to traffic between Dyer Street and Highway 43. Residents there remain in their homes.

Woodhurst Place and Green Bluff Drive are also closed to traffic.

City crews also are responding a sewer overflow at Cardinal Drive. Reports suggested that sandbags were being used at the overflow site in an effort to corral some of the effluent.

The city partially activated its Emergency Operations Center at 3 a.m. Friday at the downtown fire station. The EOC was deactivated at 7:30 a.m. and remains on standby and will reopen if necessary. The city has coordinated with Clackamas County's EOC for assistance and has hired a geotechnical company to evaluate the slide area.

Meanwhile, West Linn City Manager Chris Jordan sent staff members to survey the damage and assess possible impacts on West Linn.

As of late morning Friday, it didn't appear there were any consequences, he said.

But city officials were keeping a close eye on the situation, especially as rivers continued to flow higher.

Jordan said the Tualatin River didn't look like it would hit 'flood stage,' but the Willamette River could.

'At the Cedaroak Boat Ramp, water is starting to come into the parking lot,' he said. But at this point, he hadn't heard of any homeowners requesting sandbags.

West Linn Reporter Kara Hansen contributed to this story.