Landslide Flood Disaster

The geologist from the state Department of Natural Resources spent Tuesday with police and public works officials assessing visible slide areas both at the top and bottom of Beacon Hill. This included the area along Queets Avenue directly along the base of the hillside.

City crews, assisted by local contractors, have been working diligently to clear and reopen streets. With the break in the weather, many citizens could be seen outside picking up garbage and debris left behind by the receding flood water.

QUEETS AVE: At this time, the 2300 to 2800 blocks of Queets Avenue are closed to vehicle traffic. Three homes in the 2500 block have been knocked off their foundations as a result of mudslides from Beacon Hill. One home is actually in the middle of the street; all three will be condemned by the city building department.

Two of the three homes were occupied and residents are moving out whatever belongings they can safely reach. One homeowner was unable to locate her cats but is being assisted by a local animal rescue group. The city is working to identify the legal owner of the home in the middle of the street so it can be expeditiously removed once an asbestos survey is conducted.

The Department of Ecology cleaned up a heating oil spill on Queets Avenue yesterday which was a result of a tank tipped next to one of the homes knocked off the foundation.

On Tuesday, the city public works crew, with the assistance of equipment from other cities, including Ocean Shores, was able to clear some of the storm water system on the east side of Hoquiam which had been overwhelmed by water, mud and debris from Beacon Hill. Surface water remains on streets in some areas, but it has drained considerably from prior levels.

The city will continue to clear the storm water system in the days to come. Citizens are asked not to drive through high water and stay out of this area unless they live there. Officers will be forced to issue citations to motorists who refuse to heed the “road closed” signs.

The police department, with the assistance of police explorer and crime watch volunteers, will continue to keep a frequent and visible presence in this area. There was one burglary reported tonight in the 2400-block of Queets Avenue, but it was not believed to be related to the evacuation on Monday.

Residents along Queets Avenue (with the exception of the homes condemned) are hereby advised the city is unable to assess or determine the condition of their home or property.

Although there has not been any visible significant movement today of the hillsides along Beacon Hill, the city cannot guarantee the safety of any structures above or below this area. Each resident is urged to contact their insurance provider as well as engineering and licensed geological experts to determine the status and safety of their premises should they chose to return.

BROADWAY AVE AND 16th STREET: The mudslide which blocked the S-curves on Broadway Avenue was removed by the city crew on Monday. This area will continue to be monitored by the street department.

An unoccupied home in the 100-block of 16th Street which had been hit and knocked off the foundation by a mudslide off Beacon Hill has been condemned by the city. It is not interfering with traffic.

BEACON HILL DRIVE: There are two homes at the top of Beacon Hill Drive with dangerously compromised foundations teetering above a huge gully created by a landslide. Both homes have been condemned as they are in danger of collapse; the homeowners are staying with neighbors at this time.

A section of sewer line was destroyed in this slide; the Department of Ecology has been notified. There are several homes serviced by this line.

Several other slide areas were viewed along the south, west and north side of Beacon Hill, including a slide off 19th Street and one near the old Moose Lodge. The city is unable to determine the condition of the properties adjacent to the identified or possible landslide areas. Residents along each of these areas are hereby urged to contact their insurance provider as well as engineering and licensed geological experts to determine the status and safety of their premises.

The only road onto Beacon Hill was destroyed by a mudslide; Roglin’s was called in to try to restore access. The contractor has been moving the estimated 40,000 cubic yards of mud and debris, but now believes it could be up to 15-days to reopen Beacon Hill Drive. The status of the roadway below the mud and debris is unknown but significant repairs will likely be necessary.

The city has secured a temporary emergency easement through a logging road across several timberlands from Beacon Hill into Aberdeen. Many areas of the roadway are currently very soft with deep mud or too steep for regular car travel; the city has contracted with Quigg Brothers to fortify the roadway with gravel. The city crew worked all day Tuesday attempting to improve the roadway and more rock will be added today.

Residents of Beacon Hill have been escorted in and out by pilot car. A schedule for the emergency access road opening will be posted on the city website at www.cityofhoquiam.com and on the City’s Facebook page.

It is hoped the road will be open without pilot cars later today. However, this logging road is emergency access only for residents of Beacon Hill and is not open to the public. Given the distance and condition of the road, residents are hereby advised fire, ambulance and police services could be limited or delayed.

HOUSING NEEDS: The Red Cross shelter established at the Immanuel Baptist Church in North Hoquiam will continue to operate at least through the weekend. Approximately 18 citizens stayed in the shelter Monday night.

Police and fire officials met with the shelter occupants Tuesday night in order to brief them on the status of the community to date. The Grays Harbor County Health Department is hosting an emergency housing meeting later today to provide suggested resources for persons displaced by this disaster. A list of resources will be provided to shelter occupants and posted on the city website at www.cityofhoquiam.com.

In addition to those impacted by the landslides, it is anticipated more residents will be displaced in the next few weeks as they struggle with the damage caused by high water and flooding.

Unfortunately, most homeowner insurance does not cover damage from landslides or flooding.

DEBRIS REMOVAL: Hometown Sanitation of Hoquiam has established an emergency garbage dumpster service to citizens in the east end of Hoquiam impacted by flood water and mud. Dumpsters will be posted this Saturday in the parking lot of Olympic Stadium from 8 AM to 2 PM; citizens must provide proof of residency, such as a city utility bill, to access this service. More information will be released regarding this event later in the week.

DONATIONS: Many citizens inside and outside of Grays Harbor have expressed interest in helping our neighbors devastated in this disaster. The Grays Harbor Community Foundation has indicated they may handle the collection of donations for this disaster; more information will be forthcoming on Friday.

Citizens should only donate to reputable, designated charitable organizations.

EMERGENCY DECLARATION: As Mayor, I have been in direct contact with Governor Inslee regarding this disaster. It is anticipated Hoquiam will be included with other cities in our area within a declaration through the Grays Harbor County Commissioners to the state.

In addition to the road damage and other utility infrastructure destroyed in the disaster, two patrol cars were flooded in the deep water during the initial response on Monday.

Citizens are urged to report all disaster related impacts to include cost estimates for loss of property, personal items, structural damage and/ or repairs to Hoquiam City Planner Josh Beach at 360-538-3971. If the phone is busy, please leave a message with your name, address, phone number and loss estimates.

It is unknown at this time what state or federal resources or funds will be available, but it is critical the impact of this disaster on Hoquiam be collected and recorded.

MORE INFORMATION: Citizens are urged to check the city website at www.cityofhoquiam.com and the City’s Facebook page for ongoing, updated information as well as check with local radio stations and newspapers.

Our heart goes out to all of those who have been impacted by this horrible disaster. I appreciate neighbors helping neighbors. We are utilizing all available resources to address the myriad of problems as quickly as possible to restore our great city.

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