Landslide blocks road again near Index; residents stranded
Up to 100 people remained stranded and without power Monday after a landslide blocked Mount Index River Road last week, the second time in less than a month that the road has been closed because of a slide.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Scores of residents near Index on Monday remained without power and stranded by a massive landslide that blocks the access road to their homes and prevents emergency crews from reaching the area in Snohomish County.
It’s the second such landslide on the road in less than a month. The latest slide started early Thursday and spilled onto Mount Index River Road, which was barely passable on Friday and closed on Saturday after another shift, said Lynne Kelly, a member of the Mt. Index Riversites Community Club, the homeowners association that owns the road.
“It’s many, many acres of blue clay coming down several hundred feet or more,” Kelly said. “It’s quite massive.”
The most significant concern, Kelly said, is for residents who have been without power since Friday, when a falling tree knocked down a power line. There are about 6½ miles of the road — and about 80 to 100 full-time residents — beyond the landslide. Some of them have generators, she said, but they’re running out of fuel.
Though it’s impossible to get vehicles in and out of the neighborhood, some people have walked out.
Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) trucks can’t access the affected area because of safety concerns about falling trees and unstable ground, according to spokesman Neil Neroutsos.
Scott Highland, who lives beyond the landslide, about 2 miles from Index, said he was still without power Monday afternoon and didn’t expect it to be restored soon.
“It’s enough of a mess I wouldn’t blame (PUD) for not wanting to get past here,” said Highland, who has been a full-time resident near Index for five years.
The road is private, Kelly said, and the homeowners have hired a contracting firm to clear the slide and stabilize the hillside, but they are concerned they may not have enough money to finish the job. So the group is appealing to various agencies for help.
The homeowners association applied for help to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but were turned down because the area has not been declared a disaster by the president, Kelly said. They are now looking for help elsewhere.
Because it’s not a county road or a county property, the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management is focusing on the emergency needs of the people who are stranded, according to Rebecca Hover, director of communications for the Snohomish County Executive’s Office.
The department is assessing the residents’ needs for food and medicine, but is working out how to get the supplies to them.
The slide is the second to occur in the area in the past month. Around midnight Dec. 17, a mudslide blocked the same road, and residents reported power outages. The road was clear and passable by Dec. 22.
Though he remains without power, Highland said the slides are part of “just another winter in the mountains.”
“If you didn’t expect this to happen on occasion, you might as well move to Florida and not expect hurricanes,” Highland said. “It comes with the territory.”
Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2517 or firstname.lastname@example.org