The striking photograph above by Natasha Carrico shows crews from GE Construction working through the night to divert water from where a massive slide has rerouted it. The slide, which supervisor Clif Clendenen called “twice the size of the Sylvandale Slide” [which closed Highway 101 for 5 days] has dammed Dobbyn Creek. The rains from last month and the melting heavy snowpack from the Watts Lake/Kettenpom area where the headwaters of the creek are found are creating a huge flow of water which the slide is diverting into a home and the nearby County bridge abutments.
In the photos seen in the slide show on SoHum Awareness taken by Shawn Studebaker, the slide can be seen having crossed the creek. There, the water is backing up. It would have already poured into the new home of a young family with children except for the efforts of over 40 volunteers who placed over 3000 sandbags. Some of them wading up to their waists in ice cold water.
“We are appreciative of the help and we hope to divert the water using culverts, says Diana Totten. “There is no real fix but we hope to take the pressure off. Right now, the water is two feet deep on the County Road. We plan to take culverts over the existing road.” Then build a new road over them.
The situation is tense and dangerous. This is an active slide. It is still moving and unfortunately, the water is also moving so fast and forcefully that it is washing the sand from the bags away in a period of three to four hours. According to Totten, ” During the night lots of trees fell. It was intense. As they fell, they made a horrible cracking sound. Then a splash.” Then, she said, a “two foot tidal wave” would roll down the creek and start “hitting around us.” This she said, “…made it a little too exciting…”
Until yesterday, there had been little county help except from the county crew workers. It was up to the landowner to protect their own home. Totten, with an extensive background in firefighting, found this incomprehensible. “”If it was a forest fire, we would have had tankers and helicopters to save the house.” Now though with the help of Public Works director Tom Mattson and County Supervisor Clif Clendenen, the county supervisors have stepped up. They have hired a contractor GE Construction, according to Public Works, but locals call them Coleman Construction. They live nearby and had equipment only two miles away ready to be mobed in.
K-rail (cement barriers) have been brought in to replace the sandbags.
Just as in the situation near Fish Creek, the homes owners are a well known and liked. Totten calls them “the most gracious and wonderful family.” Hopefully, with the help of generous volunteers, help from the county, and the local contractor this situation will be resolved. The hope is that the water which is threatening the structures can be diverted so that the slide can slowly erode away. Because the slide is still moving and because stuctures could be damaged if the dam were to collapse all at once, the work on the earth blocking the creek is minimal.
However, as the following video (don’t miss this—it is as informative as any news report you’ve seen) by Kristin Windbigler explains, this is a dicey situation.