'Massive' landslide sends tons of mud and trees tumbling across NC highway

Drone footage of massive landslide in Henderson County, NC

Drone shows Highway 9 shut down after landslide
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Drone shows Highway 9 shut down after landslide

A "massive" landslide in Henderson County has closed NC 9, dumping tons of mud and trees across both lanes of the well traveled highway.

Broad River Fire and Rescue first reported the incident shortly before 11:30 p.m. Monday, posting on Facebook that "one of our main roads for mutual aid, EMS and law enforcement is closed."

The department said the slide fell near the intersection of Shumont Road, and also forced the closing of nearby Morgan Hill Road.

State officials told TV station WSPA that the mountain of debris is 600 feet tall and 300 feet wide. The area remains unstable and dangerous, with a possibility of more trees and rocks tumbling onto the road, the station reported.

NCDOT told the Asheville Citizen Times on Tuesday it doesn't yet have a timetable for clearing the mud, but "it's not going to be any time soon."

As many as 60 trees came down with the mud and rocks, according to WHKP.

A 50-mile detour is been created, taking northbound drivers up U.S. 74 to Interstate 40 to Exit 64 and back then to N.C. 9 south, reported WYFF. Traffic headed south is diverted to NC 9 north, toward Interstate 40, then Exit 53A to U.S. 74A and back up NC 9, the station said.

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Mudslides have been reported in western North Carolina since Subtropical Storm Alberto brought record rain to some counties last week. Two deaths on Wednesday were blamed on a mudslide near Boone that also prompted a gas explosion.

Another mudslide in McDowell County was blamed for pushing an NCDOT bulldozer into the Catawba River on Tuesday, May 29. Two men were inside and had to be rescued from the rising waters, as they stood on the side of the vehicle, officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service put out a warning on Monday that N.C. mountain visitors should watch out for trees toppling due to high winds and weeks of heavy rain, the Charlotte Observer reported June 4.

The "safety alert" was issued for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in western North Carolina.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs