Landslide leaves southern Utah couple homeless

Oct 27, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

LA VERKIN, Washington County — A sudden landslide in Southern Utah has left one couple homeless with no answers as to where they can go.  

Four weeks ago Denise Poulsen heard a knock on her door. Workers with the city of La Verkin let her know there was a water leak. Just two days ago Poulsen learned they needed to evacuate immediately.

The home was Poulsen’s for nearly a decade and it was supposed to be their final move.   

“This was our to-die-for house,” Poulsen said.  

Her parents gifted the house to Poulsen and her husband as their inheritance so they had no mortgage payments and could retire peacefully.   

In 2021, two nearby homes were lost to a landslide, but Poulsen didn’t expect her home to be next.   

“The city had been notified of a water leak coming off underneath our house, coming down the hillside and asked us to please take care of it,” Poulsen said.  

Poulsen called the Geotechnical testing company that gave them the approval to build there in 2015.  

When Geotechnical Testing Services, Inc., arrived on Monday, they found cracks in the siding, dips in the flooring, and a landslide at the bottom of their home.  

In a letter to the Poulsen family, the company owner advised they should “immediately move out. Based on our observations we estimate that a catastrophic failure of the landslide and residence could occur at any time.”   

Poulsen was told the house might not be standing the next morning but opted to stay the night.  

“Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. we had a doorbell ring and there were 10-12 ladies who said ‘hi, we’re here to move you,’” Poulsen said.

By the end of the day, friends secured an Airbnb and storage unit for the Poulsen’s.  

Now the Poulsen’s are looking for their next home, something they can afford while retired and while Poulsen completes bone marrow cancer treatments.  

“We’re doing cancer and homelessness,” Poulsen said. 

Their insurance won’t cover it and Poulsen said the city of La Verkin isn’t helping either.  

A spokesman for the city told KSL in an email that the exact source of the water is unknown and the city is monitoring the situation daily. “Our first priority is for the safety of the residents,” the spokesman wrote. 

As for Poulsen, she’s still grappling with the loss of her dream home while trying to make sure she doesn’t lose anything else.

“There’s always two choices: to cry or to laugh,” Poulsen said. “I learned a very long time ago that it only gives you a headache to cry, so smile.”  

Friends set up a GoFundMe account for the Poulsens. You can contribute by clicking here*.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Landslide leaves southern Utah couple homeless