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Waves wreak havoc on shoreline

James Wiaczek, foreman of the Island County Coupeville Road shop, talks on the phone while surveying the effect of today’s stormy weather at Hill Road at Ebey’s Landing. The road and several others around the island were closed to flooding. - Justin Burnett photo
James Wiaczek, foreman of the Island County Coupeville Road shop, talks on the phone while surveying the effect of today’s stormy weather at Hill Road at Ebey’s Landing. The road and several others around the island were closed to flooding.
— image credit: Justin Burnett photo

Powerful winds and high tides destroyed property, forced the closure of several roads and disrupted service on the Port Townsend-to-Coupeville ferry route Monday.

Waterfront residences in Bon Air on Central Whidbey suffered severe damage to bulkheads and, in several cases, resulted in the loss of up to 20 feet of property, residents reported.

“Out of the 10 or 15 (waterfront) houses, only about three didn’t have damage to their bulkheads,” Diana Schmidt said.

A home on West Beach Road near Swan Lake was also lost when the bulkhead in front of the house washed out. Renter Alex Thierry, a teacher in Oak Harbor, lost everything in the disaster.

According to Bill Oakes, director of Island County Public Works, Monday’s storm also closed roads in communities up and down the island, from outlying Oak Harbor to Freeland.

They include: West Beach Road between Even Down Way and Swantown Road on North Whidbey, a section of Hill Road at Ebey’s Landing on Central Whidbey, and portions of Shoreview Drive by Freeland Park, Woodard Avenue and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland.

Reports also came in that portions of Madrona Way on Central Whidbey were also flooding.

In addition, the state Department of Transportation, Ferries Division, cancelled multiple sailings between Port Townsend and Coupeville due to high winds and later sailings were delayed.

Vehicles and passengers were advised to take the Edmond/Kingston and Mukilteo/Clinton routes for travel to and from the Olympic Peninsula.

According to Oakes, the number of road closures was the result of several converging factors.

“It’s a high tide, a low pressure system and wind,” Oakes said.

Monday saw some of the highest tides of the year around Puget Sound, he said. The combination with strong winds and large waves, especially on the West Side of Whidbey Island, was the perfect recipe to flood roads.

Hill Road, which was closed at about 7:30 a.m., was so choked with driftwood and running water that it was largely impassible other than by foot.

A National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration alert forecast westerly winds between 20 and 35 mph with local gusts to 60 mph. They were expected to diminish to between 15 and 30 mph with gusts near 45 mph by midday.

The strongest winds were expected over Whidbey Island, especially the West side, which is exposed to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

According to Steve Marx, assistant director of Public Works, all of the roads were cleaned up and reopened by closing time Monday afternoon.

“We have great work crews,” he said.

 

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