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Unstable hill threatens Cal Poly dorm; students packing their ‘go bags’

Fallen trees and old irrigation pipes jut from a slumping hillside behind Cal Poly’s Fremont Hall. A temporary wall has been installed to shore up the area behind the yellow barricades in foreground.
Fallen trees and old irrigation pipes jut from a slumping hillside behind Cal Poly’s Fremont Hall. A temporary wall has been installed to shore up the area behind the yellow barricades in foreground. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

An unstable hillside is threatening Cal Poly’s Fremont Hall, and the university has put residents there on alert in advance of heavy rains forecast for Friday.

Andres Castellanos, a student who lives in the dorm, said residents were told on Wednesday to pack “go bags” in case the upcoming storm triggers a massive mudslide. If the hill does give way, the 275 Fremont Hall residents would have to be evacuated and relocated elsewhere on campus.

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Matt Lazier, a Cal Poly spokesman, said in an email that the university has “sufficient space within its other residential facilities to accommodate these students temporarily.”

Crews from Cal Poly’s Facilities Operations are monitoring the hillside’s instability and have installed a temporary barrier to fortify the area, Lazier said.

Lazier added that the crews have also removed several trees that posed a risk of falling.

Cal Poly’s University Housing has plans in place to evacuate the students if the building becomes unsafe to occupy, and students have been given a designated meeting point in the event of an evacuation, Lazier said. Housing is also providing the students with updates on the dorm.

For the first time in nearly six years, Santa Margarita Lake is full and spilling over into the Salinas River. Mark Hutchinson, deputy director of SLO County Public Works, talks on Feb. 8, 2017, about the role of the lake, also known as the Salina

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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