One of the most striking scars left by the storm that hit North Whidbey on Jan. 9 is perhaps Deception Pass State Park’s destroyed parking lot, which has been closed ever since.
Weeks later, part of the West Beach parking lot remains covered with logs and debris pushed by the wind and waves. Large chunks and crumbles of asphalt are visible under the wood, as well as a semi-buried parking meter.
Park Manager Jason Armstrong said he does not know when the parking lot will reopen to vehicles, nor how much it will cost to restore it, but he does know it will take time. Removal of the driftwood will also have to wait, as the logs serve to protect the parking lot from being further damaged by rain or snow.
“If you remove all that heavy weight off the asphalt and you have another storm, you may have the potential of exacerbating the problem,” he said.
When the storm happened, the park was still in the process of conducting some assessments on the parking lot following some damages caused by another storm back in late 2020. The 2020 storm caused some foundational damage, with the water undercutting the parking lot on the shoreline. However, Armstrong said, the parking lot wasn’t nearly as damaged as it is today.
These assessments are necessary to qualify for flood insurance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Now the park needs to conduct more assessments to submit another FEMA application and restore the parking lot.
The parking lot will remain closed to vehicles until further notice.
“We’re in the middle of the winter,” Armstrong said. “It’s not super busy in the park right now anyways, so we’re just trying to make the best decision for the public moving forward.”
In the meantime, visitors can park Monday through Friday at the Cranberry Lake campground entrance and walk to West Beach from there. According to the park’s website, to manage weekend traffic, Cranberry Lake Road will be closed at East Cranberry and parking will only be available at the East Cranberry Lot.
Additionally, according to the website, part of the trail between Lottie Point Loop and Lighthouse Point Loop at Bowman Bay was washed away, and the walking bridge was damaged by the tides. Thus, they remain closed until further notice.