Cumberland Gap awaits slide cleanup

7:34 PM, Aug 8, 2011   |    comments
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Residents in Cumberland Gap hope a meeting Monday will bring answers to a problem they've been dealing with for nearly two weeks.

On July 26th, a landslide ripped up parts of South Cumberland Drive and blocked the main entrance into town.

The road has been closed since, forcing drivers to travel through the Virginia entrance to get there.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation met with the land owner on Monday.

John Asher was cited July 15th for not having proper permits to do excavation work in the area. During a compliance review, T-DEC informed him sediment and erosion controls must be put in place.

Officials said it's impossible to know though if the lack of those controls contributed to the slide.

Regardless, those in Cumberland Gap are looking for a resolution soon.

At Webb's Country Kitchen, Manager Wendy Alston said she has seen a 25% decline in business since the slide. Alston attributes that to tourists not knowing about the town's second entrance.

"I'm wondering how many people have not been able to come in, not knowing," she said.

Jim O'Neal lives behind the slide, and can find a silver lining.

"With the highway right behind our home here, we've had a lot less traffic noise here," he said.

Alston and O'Neal hope repairs will be made soon.

"We're hoping for a quick response, because we're losing a lot of money," Alston said.

Cumberland Gap Mayor John Douglas said Monday he expects to have a timetable for repairs by Tuesday.

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