March 27, 2013 at 9:41 AM
Big landslide on Whidbey Island
A massive landslide damaged one home and threatened many more in Coupeville on Whidbey Island this morning.
Seventeen homes were isolated by the 400- to 500-yard slide, eight of them occupied, said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown.
“The road’s been cut off, the power’s been cut off and the water’s been cut off to the homes on the beach,” he said.
There have been no reported injuries directly related to the slide, although one resident was taken to the hospital for unrelated issues. That man’s home was knocked off its foundation and pushed several hundred feet toward the water, said Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin. He was able to get out of the home but soon found that the road to safety was cut off. Emergency personnel wound up taking him out by ATV, gaining access to the area via Steve Ballmer’s property, to the south of the slide.
Driftwood Way, the epicenter of the slide, is home to a mix of full-time residents, second homes and vacation rentals.
It will be “closed for the foreseeable future,” Hartin said. “We’re talking about a huge, huge section of road that’s completely gone.”
Residents and vacationers continue to be evacuated.
Neighbors are said to have heard what sounded like thunder about 4:15 a.m, KING-TV is reporting. Those living in threatened homes could be seen this morning walking to the edge of the slide.
Dick Caldwell, who lives not far from the slide, went over this morning to take a peek. It looked like “chaos,” he said. “It’s just a jumble of trees and dirt and all sorts of shrubs and things.”
Slides are not uncommon in this area; there was a 100-yard slide in January.
“It’s what happens when you live on the edge,” Caldwell said. After 26 years in his home, he said there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.
KOMO TV reported that a relief center for people displaced by the slides has been set up at a nearby community center.
Meanwhile, the county is awaiting the arrival of a contract engineer to assess whether any of those evacuated will be allowed to return to their homes.
Click here for more photos of the slides.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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