WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 10, 2011, 09:00 PM

Valley City, Barnes County deal with sliding soil

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Valley City is experiencing what some call "sliding soil." Hills in Barnes County are shifting, sliding around.

Research is being done to see what's the cause. All over Valley City, you can see signs of pushed pieces of soil affecting homeowners and businesses. Telephone poles are leaning, water mains are tilting, and utilities are being threatened.

It's been getting worse since spring, and making it hard to find the best area to build a home.

Dave Andersen - Building Inspector: "We have to be careful you know, not just where you build on these hills, but down below. If you build into the tow of these hills, you can start the whole thing to slide."

Crestwood Subdivision near Sky Lanes Bowling Alley is being affected, along West Main Street Near 24th Avenue and West of McCarthy Hall on Valley City State University.

Valley City isn't the only place suffering from sinking soil. Homeowners just north of town are hurting too. One man tells us he's about to lose his home.

For the last ten years, John Bury gets to wake up to a beautiful view of Lake Ashtabula...his dream home.

John Bury - Losing home to landslide: "I've always wanted this. I get to shoot deer, right out my living room window."

And it's the only place he's got.

Bury - "This was going to be my retirement"

But things for Bury are changing quickly. Last month, the soil around his home started slipping away.

Bury - "At one point, there was a crevice large enough and deep enough where I could stand with my arms out and be supported."

Bury used to have a drive-way here, but in a manner of three or four days, 12 feet of soil dropped off, making it impossible to access this part of his property."

Bury - "A good portion of my property was on this hill."

Bury's moving mounds, doing what he can to save his home.

Bury - "In front here, we filled in the cracks..."

Its a huge project. Bury walked me around his property, and what I saw was surprising. Sections of soil pushing in pieces of his home around.

Bury - "My trailer is kinda bowing this way and leaning back."

Bury's been making calls to see who can help. There isn't much available.

Bury - "I called the insurance company and they said it’s too old."

He's being pushed around by the sinking soil. But Bury says he's staying.

Bury - "Where am I gonna go? With my dogs and stuff..."

Bury's in the midst of a brutal battle with mother nature. And for the time being, she's winning.

Bury's utilities are also being affected. He's had to repair two water main breaks, and lost his telephone line for a short period of time.