Ledgewood devastated by landslide

An enormous landslide in Ledgewood this morning has severely damaged at least one home and impacted more than 30 others.

The slide occurred in the Central Whidbey Community at about 4 a.m. Hundreds of feet of earth sloughed off from the bluff above Driftwood Way, destroying much of the road and knocking one home off its foundation.

"It's massive. I wouldn't even put a description on it," said Chad Michael, assistant chief of Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

Looking at the devastation from above, the affected area appears to be at least the size of two football fields. In fact, aerial footage from news helicopters show a shoreline transformed, from a once straight waterfront to one that now has a large peninsula jutting out into Puget Sound.

The destroyed road cutoff 17 homes, five of which were occupied at the time of the slide, Michael said. No one was hurt but the resident in a home that was knocked off its foundation had a preexisting medical condition and was transported to Whidbey General Hospital.

As of 10:30 a.m., Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue emergency responders were busy evacuating the remaining residents from their homes by boat.

According to Fire Chief Ed Hartin, a total of 17 homes on Fircrest Avenue have also been evacuated as sections of the bluff have continued to slough off through the morning.

One resident, Bret Holmes, has been losing more and more ground all morning. Holmes said the first slide occurred just before 4 a.m. He was awaken by what some have described as a "sonic boom."

"I heard something loud, looked out my window and noticed I didn't have any trees in the front yard anymore," he said.

Initially, his yard stretched more than 30 feet to the bluff's edge. The first slide took out a large portion but additional sloughing has now left with him with about 15 feet.

"It's still moving," Hartin confirmed.

"Two (homes) are significantly threatened," he said.

Island County is bringing in a geotechnical engineer this afternoon and the evaluation results will determine how long residents will have to stay away from their homes, Hartin said.

A Ledgewood water commissioner confirmed water in the area has been shutoff and county emergency management officials said the same had been done for the electricity.

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson visited Ledgewood this morning to see firsthand the devastation wrought by the landslide. Struggling for words, she characterized the damage as "enormous" and said she was "saddened" for Ledgewood residents.

"It's a tragic loss for these property owners and this community," Price Johnson said. "We just need to pull together."

It's unclear whether the damage can even be repaired. A huge section of Driftwood Way was completely destroyed and many of the homes along Fircrest are threatened as sections of the bluff continue to slough off.

Holmes' house is one of those most threatened and he was busy this morning moving belongings to the garage, which is located behind the house. While he's very worried about what will happen, he said he was grateful to have not been hurt in the disaster.

Just yesterday, he had planned to mow the backyard with his tractor.

"For some reason I decided against it," Holmes said. "Thank God."

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