‘I was catapulted out of bed’: Family recounts moments when Bellevue landslide destroyed home

BELLEVUE, Wash. — A water main break and landslide knocked a house off its foundation, causing it to collapse on Monday morning. The incident also evacuated 42 people in Bellevue’s Somerset neighborhood.

>> 17 homes evacuated after Bellevue home slides, collapses

It happened around 4 a.m. in the 5000 block of 139th Place Southeast.

The landslide decimated the home of John and Barb Surdi, who have lived in the house for 20 years.

“Insane, just insane. It’s crazy. I just don’t get it,” said John Surdi.

“There was this huge bang - it felt like there was an earthquake,” said Barb Surdi. She and John said a neighbor had called to alert them that there was water rushing down roads in the neighborhood. But with the house dry, Barb went back to sleep. Then the slide happened.

“I was catapulted out of bed,” Barb said. “The dresser came down, the glass came down, everything came down,” she said.

Meanwhile, John was driving around trying to find the source of the water main break flooding the neighborhood. That’s when the neighbor called again.

“He said. ‘John are you okay? Your house just fell down the hill.’ And I’m like what?” John said. He rushed back home to find the house in pieces.

“Piles of rocks, mud, trees were all coming down,” John said. “I’m yelling, ‘Barb, Barb, Barb!’ And she’s inside yelling, ‘John!’” he said.

“But the sound of the water was like being by a raging river so we couldn’t even hear each other,” Barb said.

John he was able to climb inside through a hole on the side of the house to get try and get Barb and their 9-month-old puppy out.

“He starts to yell, ‘take the stairs!’ I’m like, there are no stairs, they’re gone! Me and my puppy are on the top floor looking down and I can see the whole side of the house is gone,” Barb said.

A Bellevue police officer got on scene and went inside. He and John managed to helped Barb clamber down debris.

“She slid down and we kind of lifted her and the police officer put her on his back,” John said. “The mud went over his knees,” he said of the area where their porch used to be. Three officers ended up helping get the whole family to safety.

But the Surdi’s home of 20 years is destroyed.

“We’re still trying to wake up from it. I just keep think it can’t be real. It’s surreal. It’s crazy,” John said.

Among the property that’s now smashed -- two classic cars that John and one of his sons each just restored after years of work.

The family’s entire business - Crystal Carpet Cleaning – was run out of the house and was also destroyed. The Surdi’s said equipment, business vans, the office – it’s all gone. Now they’re just trying to figure out how to move forward.

City officials are still working to figure out what caused the water main break and landslide, as well as which incident happened first.

One of the Surdi’s daughters set up a GoFundMe page to help, saying “it is unknown at this point what will be covered under insurance.” Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from landslides. The fundraiser has raised more than $75,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

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