- Courtesy of Shayla Messier
- The crack above Pike Street
Five Barre residents have been homeless for months due to a bureaucratic morass triggered by a landslide that hasn’t even happened yet. With no clear timeline, they’ve been unable to pursue a buyout for their properties and are prohibited from returning to their still-standing homes.
Raeburn had to move out on July 19, when Barre City officials deemed his house and 36 Pike Street uninhabitable due to an "imminent landslide." They'd discovered a large crack in the soil behind the two properties. Barre had been swamped by rain, and officials believed it was not a matter of if — but when — the hill behind the two homes would collapse.
In most cases, that would qualify homeowners for a buyout of their imperiled properties. And in August, the Vermont Geological Survey recommended just that.
"This is unprecedented," Ben DeJong, the state geologist, said of the situation. "I’m not aware of any other place in the state where we can very quickly state this is an imminent risk — but we might be able to fix it."
“It’s an ongoing challenge,” Storellicastro said. “From my layman’s perspective, it’s a no-brainer buyout. Hopefully we’ll get someone who can say that with credibility, and we’ll move forward.”
His neighbor Brandy Lussier has also had her life thrown into disarray. She's owned 36 Pike Street for 28 years and lived there with her daughter and son-in-law, Shayla and Justin Messier, and their son, Cole.
Shayla worries about her son starting eighth grade in such an unstable situation.
"It's really distressing," she said. "In a way it’s even worse than not having a place to live, to not be able to provide stability for your child. And with no answers as to when this will end, we have no timeline."
Correction, September 12, 2023: A previous version of this story misreported the Barre City Council's role in hiring the geotechnical engineering firm.