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January 13, 2014

Still image of aerial video view of Index landslide area. Video shot by Scott Highland and posted to YouTube January 12. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Falls Place Road, Mt. Index Riversites. Still image from video shot Sunday afternoon by MIR resident Thom Boullion shows big rig on Falls Place Road doing cleanup work on removing downed trees from the hillside.
This story was originally published Sunday evening 1/12/14 in the Index column on front page

(INDEX, WA) -- As of Sunday night a big landslide that started some four weeks ago due to rain saturation of the soil still had a portion of the Mt. Index River Road, a private road, closed for safety reasons.

Around 80 residents were using generators and other means to keep warm as the area has been without electricity since Friday.

The earth, after days and nights of soaking rain decided to shift and give way Thursday on a hillside just east of Sunset Falls.

The end result was a portion of the roadway being blocked by mud, trees, branches, rocks and other debris that came cascading down. The area is still considered unstable and therefore the roadway is not considered safe to use.

The aerial video of the slide area below was shot by Scott Highland and posted to YouTube January 12. The waterfall in the video is Sunset Falls.

The private road in Index is maintained by the Mt. Index Riversites organization which Sunday night posted to its website, "Still no power east of the slide. Phone lines are working."

The organization says crews continued to move massive amounts of debris and tried to build a temporary road past the slide.

The statement added, "Our first priority is access and getting PUD feeling safe enough to move their crews east of the slide to restore power to the stranded 80+ residents. The Snohomish County Dept of Emergency Management has made arrangements for 911 access across the railroad tracks should anybody need to be evacuated for medical reasons. More crews and equipment are on site working every moment of daylight (and then some). It is imperative for your own safety that you stay out of the slide area."

KOMO-TV did a report from the area Sunday and found resident Cameron Elias's wife was having a baby. He told the station they sent her out of the area because the road was too unpredictable and her water broke on Sunday.

Then Elias couldn't get his vehicle out of the neighborhood on Sunday afternoon so he called a friend for a ride to the hospital.

And in a typical, we-take-life-as-it-comes comment from a hardy, weather hardened Indexian Elias told the station that this current tussle with Mother Nature, "Is the price we pay for the beauty we behold."

If you have some interesting photos of the landslide area or video, or a story about an aspect of the event that hasn't been told yet please give us a heads up at newstip@skyvalleychronicle.com. Thank you.


Due to our state's topography landslides are a relatively common occurrence, particularly during rain soaked winters. The state department of ecology has some DO's and DON'T's for homeowners in that regard:
DO get advice
Get advice from a qualified geologist or geological engineer before buying a potentially unstable site or building your home. Although waterfront lots can be attractive sites, they often have severe natural limitations. They may also be subject to strict environmental and safety regulations

DO leave a safe setback
Build a prudent distance from the top or bottom of steep slopes. Avoid sites that are too small to allow a safe setback from the slope. Allow adequate room for drainfields and driveways. Local setback requirements should be viewed as absolute minimums. Resist the urge to trade safety for a view.

DO keep plants
Maintain existing vegetation, both above and on steep slopes. Trees, shrubs, and groundcovers help anchor soils and absorb excess water. Get expert advice identifying and removing weeds.

DO maintain drainage
Collect runoff from roofs and improved areas and convey water away from the steep slope or to the beach in a carefully designed pipe system. Regularly inspect and maintain drainage systems.


DO NOT irrigate or put drainfields on a bluff
Avoid placing septic system drainfields or irrigation systems between a home and the edge of a bluff, where excess water or leakage could exacerbate slope instability.

DO NOT dump on a slope
Do not place clearing debris, yard waste, or fill material on a steep slope. Even small accumulations of debris can become saturated and precipitate a larger slide.

DO NOT change natural drainage
Avoid modifications of the ground that disrupt or alter natural drainage, unless based on the recommendations of a qualified geologist or engineer.

DO NOT cut into the slope toe.
Don't cut into a steep slope or excavate the toe of slope.

DO NOT overlook slide hazards
Do not be lulled into complacency by the lack of recent slides. Landslides typically only occur every few decades on a given site, and in some cases are even less frequent, but may remain a serious risk when heavy rains occur.



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