Prolonged drought causes soil to shift, damaging housesPublished 12:40pm Monday, January 7, 2013
By Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio News
WASECA — As Minnesota’s drought deepens this winter and the dry conditions that became more pronounced last summer have effectively been locked into frozen soil, some homeowners are dealing with problems left behind when the rain stopped last year.
Among them are Shannon and Jon Cliff, whose four-bedroom home in Waseca has been damaged by the shifting ground.
When Shannon Cliff moves from one room to another, she can point to dozens of cracks in the ceramic tiles, fissures along the walls and ceiling, and patched up gaps near the windows.
These days, she can again close her bathroom door. But that wasn’t the case last July, when Cliff’s youngest daughter called her to tell her she was locked inside.
“We’ve never had doors that didn’t open and shut,” said Cliff, 43. “No one ever got locked in a bathroom. And who would have thought? I thought she was just being a wimp.”
From Rochester to Sioux Falls, S.D., homeowners have reported shifting foundations and cracks in basements and walls. Such damage is common for aging homes, but this year’s dry weather exacerbated the problem for many of homeowners in southern Minnesota.
The Cliffs say their home settled the moment their daughter shut the bathroom door.
It was one of many signs inside the house that pointed to severe problems outside.
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