Hancock County homeowner praying her home will weather next rain

Local News

A family in Hancock County is praying their home doesn’t end up at the bottom of Newman’s Ridge. Heavy rain caused multiple landslides in the area and around Rita Raleigh’s home. It’s threatening her safety, and future – all from three literal angles that make the edge of a now-massive cliff. 

Friday morning, Rita said, while she was at work, her husband had his back turned to what was their back yard. Rita said her husband recalls a “whoosh” sound and it had all slid below and left behind massive cliff feet away from her mobile home. 

The land surrounding her home continued to fall as the rain continued to fall. 

Rita and her husband make rounds inspecting the ground under the house, once before bed and first thing in the morning; however, Rita admits, she’s been also checking between 2-3 a.m.

“All of this is going to be coming down and we don’t know with this next rain if it’s going to escalate it and bring it on down, how fast it’s going to come down.” she said.  

The Raleighs haven’t had time to process what’s happening around their home, nor time to cry about it.

“I’m afraid if I do, I won’t stop. I’m trying to hold it together because I guess it’s just going to be a feeling of giving in, defeated, and I don’t want to feel defeated yet,” Rita said. 

The bluff behind her home is falling. The cliff in her front yard is cracking and the massive hole on the side of her home is still sliding.

“It’s gone. It’s just devastating to see it. It actually numbs you because you don’t know what to think. It’s just one minute you got it and the next minute you don’t,” she added. 

The rain over last weekend is still a growing problem for Rita. The cracks on the ground are getting closer and closer to their well, where they get drinking water, which is just more than a dozen feet from her bedroom window.

“We don’t know where it’s going to stop out here. You can guess at it and you can look at it and think well the dryer weather has slowed it down, but all these major cracks are telling you that it’s all going to go,” she added. 

She always wanted to end up there – on the property that once belonged to her mother. When she passed in 2011, she inherited the land and her home, which Rita moved to the location on Prospect Road.

She says the land has been in her family for more than 100 years.

“I wanted to make this our home, so we moved here from Talbott so we could be here around our family and be close with everyone. My mom is buried right up to the road and I just want to be near her.”

She’s hoping someone can come forward with a solution to help keep her home from ending up at the bottom of the ridge.

She says she knows the land is going to continue to fall and more rain is coming. 

Rita works and says she doesn’t want charity, just help. She said it cost $4,600 in 2011 to move the mobile home, not to mention how they would need to buy a well and septic system to relocate. It’s money she says they don’t have. 

There is a lesson to learn from their tragedy, according to Rita. Buy flood insurance.

“We have every kind of insurance you can think of automobile, homeowners, health, dental, vision…. (we) never dreamed of flood insurance,” she added. She said anyone, living high or low, can be affected by this. 

Hancock County Mayor Thomas Harrison said Wednesday the county doesn’t have the engineering staff to survey the land and determine if it’s unsafe to live. He believes in order to be eligible for state help, Rita’s mobile home would have to be damaged. 

The Raleighs are continuing to pray. 

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