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Eroding Embankment Leads To Dangerous Situation In Morrisville

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Heavy rain from Wednesday's storm was the last straw for one local building.

The Morrisville police chief feared for the safety of the people inside after an embankment started to break apart and spill over a retaining wall. So he evacuated the building.

According to police chief Robert Whitesell and town engineer Blake Mills, the retaining wall on Copley Parkway is on the verge of collapsing. They said Wednesday's soggy conditions and wet ground made a bad situation worse.

The retaining wall holds back about a 30-foot embankment. On top of the embankment sits the office building that was evacuated.

The embannkment apparently has been eroding for some time. It became an obvious concern after large chunks of brick and rock began sliding down Wednesday.

"If we had a tornado and another heavy rain, and if we continue to have rain tonight, this parking lot will continue to fall down," town engineer Blake Mills said, pointing to the lot at the top.

Whitesell said the erosion apparently has been occurring for at least three weeks.

"And no one has worked on it in that three-week period," he said. "The sandbags in place up there to turn the water have been there since Hurricane Isabel."

Compounding matters is that the owner of the property, who has done work on the retaining wall, never got the proper permits to do that work -- thus committing some federal violations. So now he bears the responsibility for repairing the wall.

Despite the seemingly dangerous situation, workers who were evacuated Wednesday said they will be back at work Thursday.

In the meantime, Mills will try to figure out how to make the wall and embankment safer.

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