Gov. Jay Inslee along with a throng of local, state and federal officials got a first-hand look Saturday at the natural disaster that devastated a Central Whidbey neighborhood.
The newly elected governor visited Whidbey Island to tour the landslide that destroyed a significant portion of the Ledgewood area March 27. The entourage, which included county commissioners, State Sen. Barbara Bailey and several residents still living in the area, walked down a temporary gravel road to visit the landslide area.
They climbed over trees still lying in a roadway to get a view of the landslide area and see how close the new cliff is to homes on the bluff. They also visited a home where the backyard is crumbling away, then walked down to the beach to where a home that is no longer habitable was clearly visible.
“I think it’s absolutely important,” Arthur Nowell said of the governor’s visit Saturday. Nowell lives in Ledgewood just south of the landslide. He added such visits are important because it helps state agencies involved work together on the clean up.
His home has been without power since the landslide. Work crews are continuing their efforts to repair the utilities and Nowell was impressed with the county’s efforts to build a temporary road that provides access to the low-lying homes in the Ledgewood area.
“I’ve been blown away and impressed with the county,” Nowell said during the governor’s visit.
The March 27 landslide forced the evacuation of several homes in the Ledgewood area. County officials red tagged one home, which means it is unsafe to even enter and they have yellow tagged five more homes, which means that homeowners can enter those homes for only a four-hour time limit.
While visiting residents at Greenbank Farm prior to his tour of the Ledgewood neighborhood, Inslee noted the amount of land that moved in Ledgewood last month.
“I think it’s the largest movement of earth since the Mount St. Helens eruption,” Inslee said while talking with folks. “We want to look for every possible way we can help the Whidbey community.”
Bailey said it was fortunate that nobody was injured as the result of the early morning landslide.
“People in Olympia are very concerned about what’s going on here,” said Bailey, and Oak Harbor Republican.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and State Rep. Norma Smith visited the landslide site and with property owners earlier in the day.
Homeowners are still recovering from the March disaster. They are getting help from government agencies, neighbors and nearby businesses.
A fundraiser, complete with live music, took place at the Greenbank Farm later in the afternoon. The proceeds of the fundraiser will go to benefit the victims of the landslide.