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Island County explores next steps in wake of landslide
By Megan Hansen
As Ledgewood residents anxiously await news on what’s to become of their community, county officials say it could be months before all questions get answered.
“Right now we’re focusing on getting access to homes isolated by the slide,” said Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson.
The commissioners met in special session to declare a state of emergency for Island County.
A declaration of emergency helps officials expedite the securing of materials and contracts needed to address the disaster.
County workers are bringing in loads of gravel that will be used to create an ATV trail where a footpath currently sits.
“Our focus is trying to keep people safe,” she said. “It’s still a very dangerous landslide area.”
Price Johnson said it is unclear when clean-up will begin. The slide area is still unstable and no work can be done.
It is also unclear if Driftwood Way will have road access again.
Price Johnson said the county is looking at whether a road can be rebuilt in the slide zone.
There are several communities on the island that don’t have road access, she said.
Right now the idea is to gather as much information as possible.
“There’s an awful lot we don’t know,” she said. “It’s a very complex slide.”
One house that once sat on Driftwood Way is red-tagged as it was knocked off its foundation and sits on a lifted shoreline.
There are also still a handful of homes on Fircrest and Driftwood that are yellow-tagged, meaning residents may enter to retrieve items, but cannot stay.
“It will be a few months before we even get a cost estimate,” Price Johnson said.
As the weekend is underway with nice weather forecasted, security is also being taken into consideration.
With all the media attention the slide has caused, officials said they are concerned people will come to the area curious to see the destruction.
“We’re urging people not to come,” Price Johnson said. “We’re trying to let this community get back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Many agencies have had a hand in assisting the Ledgewood community, including neighboring counties.
Price Johnson said Whatcom and Snohomish counties have provided assistance and volunteers have come from all over.
“I’m incredibly proud of this community,” she said. “And I’m so grateful no one was hurt.”