Rain causes West Bank mudslide

No one was injured during the cliff’s collapse behind the University of Minnesota’s Fairview Medical Center on Thursday evening.

by Marion Renault

A mudslide behind the University of Minnesota’s Fairview Medical Center occurred Thursday evening after day-long rain pushed a large chunk of the hill located immediately behind the West Bank hospital into the Mississippi river.

No one was injured during the incident and officials are working to provide more information.

“We never had any danger for our patients or threats to our patients,” said Carolyn Wilson, chief operating officer of Fairview Health Services, at a press conference Friday afternoon, adding that the areas of the campus closest to the riverbanks are all non-patient.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, the Minneapolis fire department responded to a call that a mudslide had possibly trapped people at the intersection of Fourth Street and West River Parkway, according to a release from the Minneapolis fire department. Two vehicles had been driving on the parkway when a swath of hill slid from the river bluff slid over the road, but motorists escaped without harm, the release said.

About 20 employees were evacuated from one of the administrative buildings Thursday night, Wilson said.

Operations have resumed at the hospital facilities and office spaces — which have been declared structurally sound. Geologists and structural engineers are currently examining University buildings on both banks of the Mississippi, Wilson said at the conference, including a building near the site of the mudslide that houses some of Fairview’s generators.

“They are telling us that all of our facilities are on bedrock, and are therefore safe,” Wilson said at the press conference. “We are doing a wider review to be careful and extra cautious.”

Officials are venting the hospital’s liquid oxygen tanks Friday to relocate a piece of equipment lost Thursday. Though the measure created a visible cloud and noise, patient care and safety was not impacted, according to a Facebook post on the University of Minnesota Health’s Facebook page.

The affected area will be closed for at least the next several days, according to the release.

The University and the city of Minneapolis will be collaborating on next steps, Wilson said at the press conference.