YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two high-rise buildings were evacuated in Yonkers Wednesday after a hillside collapsed with neighbors directly in the path.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, investigators late Wednesday afternoon were trying to determine whether more mud would come tumbling down.

The mudslide happened at the site of the Old Croton Aqueduct, behind the buildings located at 95 and 97 Walsh Rd., fire officials said. Many tons of mud came down with a rumble and a roar.

“The mud is coming from a hill behind these buildings, it’s a large hill and there’s about eight feet of mud behind the buildings,” Yonkers Fire Department Chief Thomas Fitzpatrick told 1010 WINS. “With the saturation and snow amounts and now the higher temperatures there is a potential for further mudslides.”

The mudslide shocked residents of the William Walsh Houses out of their quiet Wednesday afternoon routine.

“You couldn’t even get out the back door,” said resident Norah Mills. “It sounded like a train running across the building.”

“(It looked) like the whole mountain came down,” said resident Willie Johnson. “I felt the building shake. I thought it was an earthquake.”

A wall that was constructed 150 years ago to support the Old Croton Aqueduct gave way. A section at least 24 feet wide spilled earth down the hill and against the rear of the 95 Walsh Road building.

About 4 to 6 feet of mud blocked the door of the lobby and might have compromised the structural integrity, fire officials said.

“We saw that mud was encroaching upon the main lobby way, so we began a shoring operation to maintain the integrity of the lobby; made sure the doors were closed and did not fill with mud so we could safely evacuate the residents of the building,” said Yonkers fire Commissioner John Darcy.

As CBS2’s Aiello reported, engineers were evaluating the damage on Wednesday night, and trying to determine how to shore up the remaining stone wall.

The fire department released a photo of the shoring system, composed of wooden frame on the floor that was being used to ensure that the rear wall of the building stays secure.

A shoring system set up in the high-rise building at 95 Walsh Rd. in Yonkers after damage from a mudslide. (Credit: Yonkers Fire Department)

A shoring system set up in the high-rise building at 95 Walsh Rd. in Yonkers after damage from a mudslide. (Credit: Yonkers Fire Department)

The buildings also evacuated as a precautionary measure, Fitzpatrick told 1010 WINS. Most of the residents are senior citizens and many have mobility issues.

Yonkers police said an Emergency Service Unit METU bus took at least 60 residents to the Police Athletic League building on North Broadway. The American Red Cross was looking out for them there.

“We’re hoping that if they do need to stay out for the evening or longer that most of them will be relocated with family, but if they can’t find alternate housing with family the Office of Emergency Management will find some suitable accommodations for them,” Fitzpatrick said.

Many residents who had to be evacuated were not thrilled.

“Very disruptive, because I’m hungry and I can’t eat,” Johnson said.

No injuries had been reported as of late Wednesday afternoon, police said. It was unclear when residents would be able to return.

Just two weeks ago, the 95 Walsh Road building was evacuated for a carbon monoxide leak. Resident Matthew Petitclair spent five hours in the hospital after breathing that in.

“One has nothing to do with the other, but it’s just bad luck, I guess,” he said. “I feel like I’ve have bad luck this month, you know?”

The buildings were to be assessed by the fire, building and engineering department. Investigators believe a leaky water pipe in the neighborhood uphill from the scene, combined with the melting snow and ice, may have weakened the old retaining wall, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

Three factors come together to cause mudslides – loose rock and sediments, a steep slope, and saturated ground, CBS2’s Elise Finch explained.

All those factors were present in Yonkers, with temperatures that have climbed in recent days before peaking at 58 degrees Wednesday, melting snowpack, and steady rain, Finch explained.

Walsh Road was closed between Nepperhan and Palisade avenues due to the mudslide.


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