Rain brings another slide

  • By Eric Stevick and Noah Haglund Herald Writers
  • Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

EDMONDS — Rich Lord first heard a low rumble before the trees began skidding around him.

Around 7 p.m. Monday, he walked to the front of his two-story home and looked out to see big branches falling over his driveway on Norma Beach Road north of Edmonds.

One narrowly missed his car.

“I’m dead,” Lord thought to himself before yelling to his dog, Toby, “Let’s get out of here.”

Toby wouldn’t budge so Lord, 63, lifted the 130-pound flat coat retriever into the PT Cruiser.

“I’ve got to get the heck out of here,” he told himself.

Lord’s home was heavily damaged by a mudslide that sent trees and brush crashing through his roof. A retaining wall softened the blow but was broken in several spots. His wife, Pat, was not home when the mud hit.

The slide at Lord’s house was one of several problems brought on by an onslaught of wet weather. In just two weeks, enough rain has fallen to rival a typical full month of March. Numerous landslides have stopped passenger trains between Everett and Seattle. The rail line is expected to be shut down through Friday morning.

The weather from Sunday to Tuesday left Burlington Northern Santa Fe crews with the job of cleaning up 37 different landslides in Western Washington — 95 percent of them between Seattle and Everett.

“It’s due to excessive rainfall, week after week,” BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said.

The largest slide hit south of Everett, dumping earth 10 feet deep along a 60-foot stretch of track, Melonas said. Crews expected to finish cleanup there, and at other spots, by Tuesday evening.

This season has been BNSF’s worst in terms of number of slides during the past 15 years, though other years have seen larger slides.

State geologists have been trying to get a better understanding on the amount of rain that triggers landslides. They’re hoping to start a warning system with the National Weather Service.

It appears that about 2.5 inches of rainfall during a week increases the risk, state Department of Natural Resources landslide geologist Isabelle Sarikhan said. That’s less than the 3.5 inches the Weather Service recorded at Paine Field in the seven days ending Tuesday.

“The bluffs are usually the first to start failing, just because they’re more unstable,” Sarikhan said.

The DNR relies on residents to report slides. Most of the reports in Snohomish County this winter have been north of downtown Mukilteo.

Before Monday, Lord had been monitoring the hillside behind his house, fearing the heavy rains that saturated the soil could bring trouble. The night before, his dogs seemed uneasy and insisted on going out much more often than they usually do.

It will be a few days before the Lords know the extent and cost of the repairs.

County officials said the slide was on private property, so the repairs will be up to them. The county’s deputy fire marshal posted the Lords’ house as not inhabitable, though it could, potentially, be repaired.

Lord and his wife urged county officials to check homes on the hill above them.

“We were worried about the people around us,” he said. “This isn’t a game. You could die in this stuff.”

Snohomish County Fire District 1 crews were on the scene of the mudslide Monday night. In a report, a battalion chief described hearing the hillside moving and trees cracking.

They made sure that water and electricity were turned off.

The Lords spent Monday night sleeping on couches in the Champions Real Estate office in Lynnwood they own.

In the daylight Tuesday, Rich Lord could see a huge gash in the hill behind his house.

He also could see the gouges that branches made to his roof and breaking through to his wife’s closet.

“We are going to get it fixed up,” he said. “But it’s going to take quite a while.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

Report a slide

To report a landslide to the state Department of Natural Resources, including digital pictures, e-mail DNR_GEO_landslide@sharepoint.dis.wa.gov. For more information go to http://www.dnr.wa.gov and search for “report a landslide.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.
Police: Mill Creek man fatally stabbed wife amid financial woes

After quitting his job at Amazon, the man amassed about $50,000 in debt, triggering a discussion about finances, he told police.

Outside of the current Evergreen Recovery Centers' housing to treat opioid-dependent moms with their kids on Thursday, May 25, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$8M in behavioral health grants to benefit children, youth, families

Snohomish County awarded one-time federal funding to five projects that will reach at least 440 new people each year.

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Nightly lane reductions, ramp closures set for I-405 near Lynnwood

Both directions of the interstate between Bothell and Lynnwood are set for disruptions this week.

Most Read