Slip Sliding Away on the North Coast

Robert, road slide Salmon Creek Humboldt county

Slide 2006 Robert Gribi carrying gas (sorry for the quality of the pic)

Outside another storm spills water across the roads. The wind is temporarily tangled in the trees and not rushing frantically about but the weather forecast predicts a wild day here on the North Coast. We had 4 inches of rain in the last 24 hours and more still coming.

Yesterday morning, Myers Flat lost power and, today at 7, Salmon Creek’s lights flickered out. My husband tells me that he heard 24,000 homes were without electricity in Humboldt County. On his drive to his job in Eureka this morning, he squeaked through a few tight spots. There is a fir down on Samuel’s Loop by the Murphy’s and three more smaller trees down along with lots of branches before the Freeway.

IMPORTANT: A power line is down by Summerville road. My husband had to maneuver our 4 wheel drive out of the roadway to be able to pass under it. He says a car couldn’t do the same—Please go on the Maple Hills Road to get to the freeway.

Here on the top of the hill, we run solar and generator backup so we are cozy. But two years ago, it was a different story. The North Coast had a series of storms that hit leaving the county declared a disaster area.

My husband, a CALTRANS engineer, received a call asking him to check out our local county road. When we got there, we found a crack and it got bigger as we watched. He sent me home to make calls while he and our older sons tried to patch it. I started a phone tree. “Get a car on the other side of the crack.” Before the day was done, at least 30 cars lined the far side of the road and it was a good thing because the whole thing went that night(see above). It still hasn’t totally been fixed though we no longer have to walk carrying food and gas between cars parked on either side.

One of our neighbors lost his home as the slide tore through the county road and under his house. They woke in the middle of a storm to discover their bedroom buckling around them. They got out but we crept back to pack up what we could salvage.

At first they didn’t want to let anyone but the family in. They didn’t want to risk us for mere possessions. So at one point, I was standing out of the rain under their woodshed hurriedly slapping together cardboard boxes from U-haul so that others could pack them. One of my feet was on solid ground and the other was on the other side of a crack. As I worked the gap widened another inch. The ground was opening under my feet!

When I had finished the boxes, I couldn’t just stand there, watching the crack slowly gape wider, so I slipped into the house and began to help. Every once in a while the back bedroom would groan deeply but I was closer to the front door, packing.

Once, two of the family’s grown sons were moving the freezer through the doorway between me and the outside world and safety. I couldn’t help but notice how completely the huge white rectangle blocked the lintel. As the guys stopped to rest, one leaned against the counter near me. Rummmmbmppppbum ripped through the silent house. We all froze. We held our breath. We looked at first each other and then the blocked doorway. In a split second, I estimated that I could climb the nearest guy and squeeze between the freezer and the lintel.

“Ladies first” I planned to scream as I mowed him over. Then he turned to me and exclaimed sheepishly, “Whoops, I bumped the ‘Earthquake in a Can.'” I stared disbelieving at a soup can with a joke label that was perched precariously on the counter.

As soon as we moved the freezer, that can was the first thing we threw in the garbage.

But just a few days ago as I was visiting to see the progress in their new home, I found that my neighbors’ crazy sense of humor had prompted him to fish out the can and keep it as a memento. He grinned as he placed it in front of me and set it off. As we watched the little can shake he said, “Doesn’t have quite the same effect as before, eh?”

I hope everyone makes it through the storm safely but if you can’t, may your sense of humor be as intact as my neighbors’.

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19 comments

  • Hey! I didn’t know your husband worked for Caltrans! Cool….I work with them often down here in District 4.

    I’m sure this weather will send some overtime hours his way.

  • He’s in management now so he doesn’t tend to work more on bad weather. His extra work comes when big projects are nearing deadline.

  • He’s in management now so he doesn’t tend to work more on bad weather. His extra work comes when big projects are nearing deadline.

  • Wow, that was quite a crack in the road!

    You live such an exciting life!

  • Wow, that was quite a crack in the road!

    You live such an exciting life!

  • Some people talk about quiet country living but I somehow have missed out on it.

  • Some people talk about quiet country living but I somehow have missed out on it.

  • I’m jealous of how you live. You and your small community are true neighbors.
    I know the guy across the street from us (but not his wife), the woman who lives next door (because she’s in sales, and can’t help but talk to people), and the guy who lives next door to her. All the other people who live in the 20-odd houses on my suburban street are strangers to me.

  • I’m jealous of how you live. You and your small community are true neighbors.
    I know the guy across the street from us (but not his wife), the woman who lives next door (because she’s in sales, and can’t help but talk to people), and the guy who lives next door to her. All the other people who live in the 20-odd houses on my suburban street are strangers to me.

  • Well, there are certainly people I don’t know up here but, out of the people who live on the 9 mile loop I probably know 75%and most of them are great people who are glad to help if needed.

  • Well, there are certainly people I don’t know up here but, out of the people who live on the 9 mile loop I probably know 75%and most of them are great people who are glad to help if needed.

  • In response to Heather’s comment about not knowing her neighbors, I have a suggestion based on good solid experience.
    Many, many years ago, I decided I wanted my grandchildren, the oldest who is now 26 yrs old, to experience a traditional 4th of July and set about to make that happen. We had the traditional food and activities and ended the day with a huge firework display.
    I only give you this background to explain to Heather that she needs to throw a huge block party. Because, as the years went by and our traditional family 4th of July continued so did our network of friends. Without exception for the next 20 years our gathering grew and grew until we had over 70 people attending AND, the point of my story is, most of those wonderful people were just neighbors – most coming because they were invited by someone else who had been invited but often someone who just saw that there was a party going on and dropped by to say hello and stayed for the activities. Many, many of the wonderful Salmon Creek group are friends because we threw a 4th of July party.
    So, give a party and see who shows up.

  • In response to Heather’s comment about not knowing her neighbors, I have a suggestion based on good solid experience.
    Many, many years ago, I decided I wanted my grandchildren, the oldest who is now 26 yrs old, to experience a traditional 4th of July and set about to make that happen. We had the traditional food and activities and ended the day with a huge firework display.
    I only give you this background to explain to Heather that she needs to throw a huge block party. Because, as the years went by and our traditional family 4th of July continued so did our network of friends. Without exception for the next 20 years our gathering grew and grew until we had over 70 people attending AND, the point of my story is, most of those wonderful people were just neighbors – most coming because they were invited by someone else who had been invited but often someone who just saw that there was a party going on and dropped by to say hello and stayed for the activities. Many, many of the wonderful Salmon Creek group are friends because we threw a 4th of July party.
    So, give a party and see who shows up.

  • That is a good idea! You can make it potluck and bring your own drinks to minimize the expense. That is what I do with the Easter party we have every year.

    It can seem really scary but it’s not that bad. And it turns out to be so fun.

  • That is a good idea! You can make it potluck and bring your own drinks to minimize the expense. That is what I do with the Easter party we have every year.

    It can seem really scary but it’s not that bad. And it turns out to be so fun.

  • Pingback: Simply Enjoying Life « REDHEADED BLACKBELT and Other Strange Connections

  • Pingback: Simply Enjoying Life « REDHEADED BLACKBELT and Other Strange Connections

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