MARYLAND

Fort Washington slope collapse homes in danger again with incoming storms

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(WJLA) - There's more cause for concern this week along Piscataway Drive in Fort Washington, where the already shaky ground could be further weakened by Thursday night's expected rain.

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Ivan Raphael points out the destruction in his Fort Washington neighborhood. Earlier this month, days of rain caused a landslide here – toppling trees, ripping open the road, and forcing the evacuation of a couple dozen homes.

The overriding worry now is that more rain could further erode ground that remains unstable. In fact, Raphael says crews tell him the earth is still shifting, and that they have installed temporary drains to direct additional rain away from this fragile zone.

With only hours to go before the storm hits, Raphael retrieved a few belongings from a home he still cannot live in.

People who work and use a commuter lot in a section of Laurel are also on high alert. Workers at a car repair shop hustled to move customer vehicles to higher ground in a part of the city that has a history of flooding.

Shian Coleman saw what happened in this lot the last time it rained hard, and doesn’t plan on being here Friday – when she will likely have to drive to work.

Back in Fort Washington, Ivan Raphael walks away from a neighborhood that he is praying for now:

"So far, so good. We all have our fingers crossed saying some prayers."

On Friday afternoon in the light of day, the sound of a large water pump echoes through the deserted community. The earth that used to support a row of houses is now a deflated mound of mud in Fort Washington.

Fortunately, intense efforts in advance of heavy overnight rain – such as removing trees and diverting runoff – proved to be effective.

"We are happy to say there was no major impact from last night's rainfall," says Prince George's County spokesperson Scott Peterson.

Anxious residents who held their breath and hoped for the best also gave a sigh of relief.

"It doesn't look like it moved too much even after all the rain we had...It still looks fairly stable up in there," says David Lishin from the Piscataway Hills Homeowners Association.

But the fate of the evacuated homes is still unknown. The findings of a soil study are due Monday, and it could give guidance in how to prevent further erosion and possible a timeline for when the residents of these homes can return again – if ever.

"We are in a hotel," says resident Christie. "It still isn't easy, but we are there for two weeks or so. After that, what happens, we will figure it out."

The area remains closed, and a community meeting for nearby residents is scheduled for 6:30 Friday evening at Harmony Hall in Fort Washington.

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