A Geotechnical Testing & Inspections worker surveys the slide site off of Ben Howard Road on Monday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A Geotechnical Testing & Inspections worker surveys the slide site off of Ben Howard Road on Monday in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mudslide east of Monroe strands a neighborhood indefinitely

About 120 residents need 260th Avenue to drive to town. It could take $1 million and a year to fix.

MONROE — About 120 residents east of Monroe aren’t driving their cars to town anytime soon.

Last week’s rain caused a mudslide Thursday night that has obstructed a private road that connected a neighborhood to Ben Howard Road. Monday, cracked pavement hung over a steep bank and water was trickling down the hill.

The residents of Skyview Estates, which include 44 five-acre properties, have to use all-terrain vehicles to get down 260th Avenue from their homes. They were told it could cost $1 million and take a year to fix, said Ken Hopkins, who’s lived in the affected area for 35 years.

Because it’s a private road, it’s unclear who will pay for the repairs. Under state law, counties can’t use public money to improve private roads.

On Monday, officials from Fire District 7 surveyed the scene. A fire engine can’t make it up the road, but an emergency all-terrain vehicle can, Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said.

Most of the homes rely on large propane tanks for gas heat and cooking, Hopkins said. Refill trucks won’t be making it up the hill anytime soon.

Neighbors have discussed making trips into town to fill barbecue-sized propane canisters to keep the larger tanks full, resident Samantha Idle said.

Residents are also losing trash pickup.

To make matters worse, a stretch of road just up from the mudslide has sunk about 7 inches since Thursday’s event.

When the slide occurred, neighbors sprung into action, Idle said.

“We had a neighborhood meeting about what we should do, and it was the first time in 10 years we voted unanimously to do something,” Idle said.

Since then, neighbors have been working to secure an alternate route to Ben Howard Road. There’s one that might work, but it would require permits from the county and permission from neighbors whose properties would be affected.

Rain is in the forecast this week, “but nothing like we’ve seen the last few weeks,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Courtney Obergfell in Seattle.

Mudslides have been reported in every corner of the county since last week’s heavy rain, said Scott North, a spokesperson for the county Department of Emergency Management.

Bent trees, cracks in soil and sunken roads are signs of a possible slide, North said.

The sound of wood cracking could mean a slide is in progress, he said.

If a mudslide is occurring around you, leave the area and call 911.

Residents can check on their property’s risk of mudslide with the help of a map on the county website, under the 2020 Hazard Mitigation Plan Update tab.

Back at Skyview Estates, spirits are high, Idle said. But that could change.

“We’re stuck,” she said. “It’s going to be a long year.”

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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