Monday, October 26, 2020
Oct. 26, 2020

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La Center families left high and dry after washout

Private road swept away in storms, cutting them off

By , Columbian Business Reporter
Published:
2 Photos
Water from this week's heavy rains washed out a private road serving six families in La Center.
Water from this week's heavy rains washed out a private road serving six families in La Center. (Photos courtesy Ken Franck) Photo Gallery

Six families in rural La Center are all but stranded after a private road was washed away in this week’s storms.

“There’s a 50-foot gorge where the creek and the road used to meet,” said Jeff Locke, a homeowner on Northeast 316th Street.

Locke and others were following an ATV trail on foot Thursday morning to try to find a way back to connecting roads.

“Fortunately, we have some neighbors where we can leave cars on the other side,” he said after walking through a three-quarter-mile stretch of woods.

Thunder and lightning were closing in around the area as the weather continued its weeklong beating on Clark County.

The area where 316th Street crosses Mason Creek was washed out late Tuesday night, leaving some cars on the dead-end east side and some on the west side.

“There’s not going to be a quick solution to it,” Locke said. “We’re trying to get help with some sort of foot bridge.”

Water and electricity were temporarily restored Wednesday, but since 316th is a private road, there will be no public works crews racing to fix the busted blacktop.

“We’re definitely sympathetic to the situation,” Clark County Public Works spokesman Jeff Mize said. “We’re willing to talk about anything we can legally do to help them out.”

A spokeswoman for the Washington Military Department said help from the state would have to come as a request from the county.

“All disasters are local,” said Karina Shagren. “It starts at the smallest level, then goes up depending on what’s needed.”

She added that no requests had yet come into the state from this week’s storms, though the residents on 316th Street would appreciate the help.

“We’re just a few homeowners, and we don’t have the finances to do it on our own,” said Ken Franck, president of the homeowners association for the affected Timber Creek Estates development. “We’re in dire straits, and these people can’t get out.”

Franck lives on the west side of 316th, which connects to Northeast 82nd Avenue and all points beyond. He said that while a temporary fix is needed, the road needs to be replaced.

“The best-case scenario is we get help getting a new culvert, a new road in there,” Franck said.

Locke, 34, said no one was hurt and was sounding upbeat after traversing through a soggy forest.

“It got pretty gnarly up here,” Locke said. “Everyone’s safe, and that’s a good thing.”

Photos of the road show a chasm one would expect to face in a video game, not when leaving home to go to work.

Normally, Locke said, it would take him about 35 minutes to get to the Portland airport for work.

“Much longer now,” he said.

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