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Mudslide ravages Vinton home

A home in the Falling Creek area of Vinton was destroyed in a mudslide in the early morning hours of May 18– possibly as the result of torrential rains combined with excavation on the hillside behind the home.

The good news is that the Trettner family of the Falling Creek Estates subdivision in Vinton is fine physically– uninjured by a terrifying experience. The unfortunate news is that they lost their home, their vehicles, and most of their belongings in a mudslide in the early hours of May 18. The home is located on a steep slope in what is identified as the Stewart’s Knob area.

Speculation is that there were contributing factors which caused their home to slide 20 feet off its foundation— both days of heavy rains which contributed to the earth movement and excavation behind their hillside home.

Roanoke County Fire and Rescue along with crews from Vinton Fire and EMS responded to a call at about 4:45 a.m. on May 18 for a report of a building collapse on Toddsbury Drive and discovered the home of Tim and Julie Trettner had been moved off its foundation.

According to Brian Clingenpeel, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue, the “family of three was in the home at the time of the landslide and building collapse but were able to evacuate unharmed. There is one cat missing. The displaced family will be staying with nearby relatives.”

It is believed that the parents were sleeping in a downstairs bedroom and were able to escape through a hole that fortuitously opened up. Their son was sleeping upstairs but was able to evacuate even though the staircase had vanished as the second floor collapsed onto the first floor.

The weight of the mud bearing down on the two-story house from above and behind led to the collapse with the house moving off its foundation and lodging in the front yard close to the flagpole. According to county officials, more details will become evident as demolition gets under way. For now, the roof of the home is visible along with a damaged vehicle in the front driveway, alongside the flagpole which is still standing.

Roanoke County Public Information Officer Amy Whittaker said, “County staff has been monitoring the property throughout the weekend to ensure the runoff has not traveled any further. The Community Development staff, including the County Engineer, have visited the property and neighbors, and had a geotechnical expert look at the site. There’s been no impact to neighboring homes.

“Building officials do not believe that any other homes are in danger,” said Clingenpeel.

“Earth moving activities were taking place on the same property by a contractor who was hired by the current owner,” said Whittaker. “The owner had a permit to correct some erosions occurring on the back of the house.”

Donations are being accepted for the family through a Vinton Mudslide Victims Go Fund Me campaign, through the Grace Family Church Trettner Family Fund in Vinton, and by Vinton Baptist Church.

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