Landslide causes tunnel collapse in Aranea; large scale power outages

Photo Credit: Zoe Komarov/North Carolina State Parks

Landslide causes tunnel collapse in Aranea; large scale power outages.

by Holly Pulaski

 

Friday evening in the Aranea neighborhood of Fox Hollow became a adventure in itself when a large landslide caused by days of rainfall closed off the Highway 14 tunnel connecting the community to the remainder of Fox Hollow. Power lines were also severed in the collapse.

No less than five victims were trapped inside the tunnel for three and a half hours during the landslide as rescuers worked to remove debris. They were all freed Friday night, though two have been transported to Magnolia Springs Medical Center. None are in critical condition and one was already discharged per MSMC officials.

Ravenwood Fire Rescue, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Transportation officials worked to clear the rubble tirelessly.

“I’m very proud of my guys, all of them.” Sheriff Ethan Martingale told the Morning Heritage. “They handled themselves spectacularly in a once in a generation event and worked with fire and transportation to get the tunnel cleared of victims rapidly.” Martingale was at the Emergency Operations Center established at City Hall during the event.

Mayor Isabella Singh offered the following comment, “While this mudslide has been a terrible natural disaster to fall upon Fox Hollow, I hope that we grow stronger as a community from it. I want to thank our rescue workers, the Ravenwood Fire department, Jasper County Sheriffs department for being there on the scene and rescuing citizens. I also want to thank Magnolia Springs Medical Center for providing the best care to victims. My prayers go out to families who had loved ones transported to Magnolia springs. We have cleanup crews in the process of cleaning up the remains from the mudslide and we hope to have power restored to the Aranea region soon. We ask all citizens without power to remain calm while we work through the aftermath of this.”

Ravenwood Fire Rescue did not respond to requests for comment before this was published.

As of Saturday, Highway 14 remains closed at the tunnel as crews clear wreckage. Aranea is still without power or a land route in and out of the small community. The North Carolina Highway Patrol and North Carolina Army National Guard are running helicopter flights to evacuate visitors and concerned residents as well as fly supplies into the small community.

Department of Transportation Director Zachary Clydesdale hopes to have the tunnel re-opened to vehicular traffic by tomorrow or Monday. Most of the rock has been cleared and and crews are working on restoring access 24/7.

 

 

 

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