Mudslide Survival


by Doom Bloom

With the grim news of at least 14 dead in the mudslide that occurred in the state of Washington, I realized that I had never written about mudslide survival. This surprised me, as I, myself, could easily be a victim of one. We’re part-time residents of beautiful Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with a home on a mountain overlooking the town and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As such, we live on a slope. How much of a slope? Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to fall off our deck (and not just because of our resident black bear).

The mudslide in Washington was huge, about a mile wide with an extensive debris field. In some places, the debris is 30 feet thick. Our thanks, by the way, to the emergency personnel who tirelessly dug survivors from the wreckage.

A mudslide, sometimes called a “debris flow”, is a landslide with a high water content. Mudslides act like a river that, if the mud is thick, has the consistency of wet concrete. Mud, rocks, trees, and other large objects are carried along and can cause homes to collapse and a huge amount of traumatic injury to residents. In the U.S., 25-50 deaths occur on average as a result of landslides.

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