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Originally published Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:16 PM

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Wash. landslide shifted massive amount of earth

Officials say 20 properties on a scenic Washington state island hillside were damaged by Wednesday's massive landslide that displaced 200,000 cubic yards of earth. That's about 40,000 dump truck loads.

Associated Press

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COUPEVILLE, Wash. —

Officials say 20 properties on a scenic Washington state island hillside were damaged by Wednesday's massive landslide that displaced 200,000 cubic yards of earth. That's about 40,000 dump truck loads.

County spokesman Christopher Schwarzen said Thursday that not all the affected properties suffered structural damage - some lost portions of their yards.

Thirty-five homes were initially evacuated after Wednesday's slide on Whidbey Island, 50 miles north of Seattle. One home was destroyed and four homes remain under evacuation orders. No one was injured.

Geologists from the state Department of Natural Resources say the slide area is part of a much larger landslide complex that may date back as far as 11,000 years.

They say the landslide into Puget Sound lifted the beach as much as 30 feet above the previous shoreline.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The ground on a scenic Washington state island continued to move Thursday, one day after a massive landslide wiped out a hillside overlooking Puget Sound.

"It still has a bit of slippage here and there," said Terry Clark of the Island County Emergency Management Department. "It can be a handful of dirt to a barrel-full. It's still an active event."

One home was destroyed in Wednesday's slide on Whidbey Island, 50 miles north of Seattle. Another 33 homes were evacuated.

By Thursday, five remained under evacuation orders or a potential order. Another 18 homes weren't accessible by road but could be accessed by boat, Clark said. No one was injured.

Authorities continued to monitor the slide and begun constructing a gravel path to provide access.

No damage estimates were yet available.

On Thursday, "road closed" signs were being posted to prevent access to some areas as geologists continued to examine the site where 400 to 500 yards of the hillside plunged toward the water. At the bottom of the slide, pieces of grass from yards and ornamental tress could still be seen.

Between 900 and 1,000 feet of road were wiped out, Clark said.

"It's probably one of the largest ones we've seen in Washington state, much less along the coast," Clark said. "We're used to little slides here and there, but this happens to be way beyond what our expectations were."

Pete Kenny was visiting to help move his grandmother to Illinois and heard the landslide as he watched power line transformers explode.

"The landslide started right at the property line and went south of us," he said Thursday.

Kenny said his grandmother's home and neighbor to south have not been evacuated. That neighbor lost part of their yard.

"It's a real sad situation. I just hope everything works out," he said.

Most of the homes are summer cabins or weekend getaways and were unoccupied. Some are larger, upscale properties and others are more modest dwellings.

Local restaurants were serving free meals to those who need them, and bed-and-breakfast cottages have also offered free rooms for a couple of nights. Community members were offering to volunteer, Clark said.

He said authorities won't have a preliminary cause for the slide until next week.

Terry Swanson, a geologist at the University of Washington and a Whidbey Island resident, said more detailed studies are needed.

"Not all bluffs act the same. We have landslides here every year," Swanson said of the island, which is about 35 miles long, north to south, and just a mile or two wide in places. "People understand that yes, these are clearly hazards, but there are different types of hazards for different types of slopes."

Clark remained awestruck by the event.

"Amazingly enough, the house that was totally destroyed actually rode on top, all the way down," Clark said.

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