Landslides render cabins unusableFour months after a landslide brought down the hills around Skunk Bay, lake-goers are waiting for the soil at their weekend retreat to settle. Paula Koffler and Doyle Wandler have owned a cabin together for four years and this spring, due to heavy rain and moisture, it has been unusable because of the ground shift.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
Four months after a landslide brought down the hills around Skunk Bay, lake-goers are waiting for the soil at their weekend retreat to settle.
Paula Koffler and Doyle Wandler have owned a cabin together for four years and this spring, due to heavy rain and moisture, it has been unusable because of the ground shift.
“Our entire yard, including our cabin, sunk four feet into the ground,” Koffler said. “It is a really sad situation. It looks horrible.”
The cabin was a getaway spot for family members and Koffler said her 4-year-old grandchild burst into tears because the cabin was “broke.”
“We bought it for the kids so everybody could come in and make memories and things, and to see it like that is very sad,” Koffler said.
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Operations Project Manager Todd Lindquist said he was not aware of landslides around Skunk Bay, but he wasn’t surprised.
He said with the heavy snowpack through the winter and heavy rains in the spring, conditions for erosion could be seen all around Lake Sakakawea.
“We are seeing a combination of sloughing and shoreline erosion with the high water levels,” Lindquist said.
Mike Rohrer was a neighbor across the bay who also saw the turf slide out from underneath his home.
“I went up there around the first of April and noticed some cracking,” he said. “People said just wait, it will quit.”
However, the shifting did not stop and two pieces of machinery were needed to move the house to a safe area, he said.
Wandler and Koffler weren’t fortunate enough to get their cabin out. Koffler said the ground is so unstable people can barely walk near their retreat.
The good new is that the cabin appears to have no structural damage, Wandler said.
“I am actually surprised,” he said. “It is leaning and twisting and it has done pretty much everything except fall off the hill.”
Rohrer, Wandler and Koffler have arranged to move their homes to different lots once transporting the structures is possible.
Wandler said to keep the same location would require extensive dirt work and installation of drain tile to divert a spring in the hill.
“I just didn’t find it feasible,” he said.
The ground needs to dry up and solidify before the homes can be moved. Wandler expects it might not be until October some time.
Rohrer said he is anticipating getting things back on solid ground.
“I am waiting to get back up there so I can live the life,” he said.