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Riverdale looking for possible grants due to landslide

RIVERDALE — City officials are hoping to find federal assistance to help homeowners evacuated from a landslide that’s slowly creeping toward several houses, though it’s likely to be a tricky and time-consuming process.

The slide has been inching toward several houses near 4500 South and 600 West ever since a patch of land roughly 150 feet wide came down late last year.  Now, several homes are blocked off with fencing marked with caution tape.

Riverdale’s city manager has looked for any kind of federal money the city could apply for, and the best bet for now is a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant from FEMA.  It’s the same kind of grant North Salt Lake received to stabilize land after a slide there.

And it’s not easy to get.

“It’s a highly competitive grant,” Riverdale Mayor Norm Searle said.

If the city were to get any money, Searle says it would have to jump through some legal hoops.

“We also have to send in a plan which would show how (we’re) going to mitigate the situation to prevent it from happening again in the future,” he said.

If the city applies for and receives the grant, the funding would go to the state, which would decide how much the city would get, he said.  Plus, if FEMA were to approve the grant, Riverdale wouldn’t get funding any time soon.

“This whole thing, when you turn it in, probably takes two years,” Searle said.

The application process might not even happen.  In other cities, mortgage companies have forgiven the loans that were taken out by people who were forced to leave their homes.  If that were to happen in Riverdale, Searle says the city likely wouldn’t get any assistance.  He says the mortgage companies by this landslide are fully aware of how big the problem has become.

“A structural engineer declared they were structurally uninhabitable,” the mayor said, “so we sent a letter to vacate, and we asked the mortgage companies to have the homes demolished.”