2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


KIEFER, John D., Kentucky Geological Survey, Univ of Kentucky, 228 Mining & Mineral Resources Bldg, Lexington, KY 40506-0107, kiefer@uky.edu

Landslides are common throughout Kentucky, and northern Kentucky has some of the highest landslide damage per capita in the country. In many areas the damage tends to be recurring and costly, especially since we have used many of the more desirable building sites and are moving into those that are much more problematic. The Kentucky Geological Survey has been working with the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a model program for buying out properties irreparably damaged by landslides and where any remediation effort would probably just postpone future failures. The public, through FEMA, should not repeatedly bear the burden of landslide damages to the same properties. The program is similar to the buyout of properties that are continually damaged by flooding, in place of using flood insurance and repeatedly paying for damages incurred.

In landslides, however, there are a number of differences. Is the damage imminent and likely to be permanent? Is the damage actually caused by landslides? Who buys, who owns, and who is responsible for the property? Buying out landslide-damaged property can help counties promote natural hazard awareness, and perhaps implement some type of hazard area zoning. But it must be done cautiously. All landslides are not created equal. Buyouts of homes of owners eager to cooperate can lead to a host of new problems. This paper examines several examples and some of the issues involved, and discusses why some properties qualify while others do not. Obviously, all the properties damaged by landslides cannot be purchased, but it is hoped that this program will make people more aware of the insidious nature of landslides and the danger of building in landslide-prone areas.