The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Residents evacuate, county closes road because of slide threat


April 19, 2018

Two families are evacuating their houses, and Wahkiakum County officials have closed the Elochoman Valley because of the threat of a major landslide.

"About two weeks ago, the people heard popping and crackling in the night," Commissioner Dan Cothren said Tuesday. When they investigated in the day time, they saw leaning trees and other signs that the timbered hillside above their house was moving. They reported the situation to the landowner, Hancock Forest Industries, and Hancock personnel found a large crack in the ground far up the hillside. A geotechnical engineer confirmed the hillside has moved and could slide at any time.

Cothren, Hancock's security officer, said the slide may be a quarter mile or more wide.

"It's scary," he commented. "You don't know when it will come, but if it comes, it will go huge."

The slide threatens two houses with outbuildings and the county road. If it had enough energy, it could cross a field and enter the river.

Hancock last Thursday notified county officials of the situation, and the officials called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

County officials agreed the slide threat posed a threat to public safety, said Emergency Management Director Beau Renfro, and they ordered the county road closed at milepost 7.47.

On Tuesday, commissioners adopted a resolution formally closing the road, and they authorized the public works department to install a locking gate. Only authorized personnel will have access to keys, they said.

"People could be cited for going beyond the gate," Renfro said.

Timber companies can find access to timberlands beyond the gate by way of logging roads, Cothren said.


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