Thank you to those who repaired La Porte road | Column

by Jessica Giasullo

Orcas Island

La Porte Road residents thank all who put our road back in service

On Dec. 1 at dusk, 20 feet of La Porte Road fell 15 feet into the ravine and stream below. Up to that time, the road crossed above the ravine. In the two days before, neighbor David Densmore noticed that a sinkhole had developed at the bottom of the ravine and alerted the neighbors and 911 that a situation was developing. At the same time, a slew of large potholes emerged on the road. Many of us quickly parked cars on the other side of the ravine and the county closed the road to vehicular traffic.

Then the culvert at the bottom of the road became blocked with debris. Within about thirty-six hours, the stream rose fifteen feet on the uphill side of the road, developing into an ever-growing lake due to more rain falling.

On Dec. 1, shortly before dusk, resident Brian Crumb parked his car on the other side of the ravine and began walking home from work. As he approached the ravine, he reports hearing a loud roar as a huge wave burst over the road, tearing it away. He and another neighbor, Bernard Mehl, watched the water flood for many moments before it settled down to a fast stream.

The 19 families living on La Porte Road were now isolated. Tim Gilbertson, whose home is closest to the ravine, sprang into action, using his expertise and tools to create a foot path out. Until the road was repaired, many of us walked in and out through that passage.

Residents of La Porte Road owe big thanks to many for helping repair the road. Employees of Island Excavators recreated our road in just eleven days, working through the weekend. These include Paul Vierthaler, company president, dump truck operators Derek Molina, Tristan Savell, Dale Briggs; large equipment operator Mick Silves; quarry crew Nicholas Vierthaler, Buck Johnson, Tyler Leidecker, Brendan Eagan; and road crew Michael Silvea, Nicklas Natale, Rafael Lopez, Andrew Hart, Kirk Huffman, Liam Nutt, and John Bodenhamer.

Huge help was also provided from San Juan County. Russ Bruland, road maintenance superintendent; Jeff Sharpe, deputy county engineer; Colin Huntemer, director of public works and engineer; Brendan Cowan with the Department of Emergency Management; and County Commissioner Cindy Wolf were all highly instrumental in getting the job done. So many neighbors on the road helped one another get through these challenging eleven days.

This whole experience is another beautiful proof of how this island can work together.