Public utility may partner with private community to get around Index mudslide

by: Chris Legeros Updated:


INDEX, Wash. - A Snohomish County crew red-tagged homes south of Index this afternoon.  Nine of them are listed as unsafe in the Mt. Index River sites community, after they were damaged by a mudslide.

KIRO 7 found Phil Killion pulling out with a few belongings in a pickup, and asked him where he’ll go.  Killion replied, “I don’t know, I called a couple friends. It’s just horrible.”

Firefighters used an ATV to shuttle out a mentally ill patient, because there's no longer a road for an ambulance to reach up to 100 full-time residents. It collapsed. 

“It’s scary," said Elizabeth Hill.  She is a geological and civil engineer who owns a cabin in the part of the community that’s been cut off.  Hill has warned her neighbors that they risk their lives just walking around the slide.  She claims its geology is similar to the killer slide in Oso. 

“We’re still getting rain and I’m just afraid it could take off, move quickly and take someone by surprise," Hill said.

A new way into the isolated part of the neighborhood is now being considered with the help of the Snohomish Public Utility District. 

The PUD wants to build a new hydropower project next to Sunset Falls. 

“To get access to actually construct those facilities, we’d have to get to the area that’s now been isolated by that slide," said Engineer Scott Spahr said.

The PUD is talking with the community about the possibility of together building a new bridge over the South Fork of the Skykomish River so that everyone can get in and out of the neighborhood.

“The same kind of bridge that went over the Skagit River on I-5, because it can be put in quickly and we’re really worried about getting a fast solution," Hill said.

The PUD hasn't committed to spending any money on a bridge, but the district is at least considering sharing costs with the community for their mutual benefit.

“We’re certainly open to listening and trying to work with them," Spahr said.

Snohomish County’s director of emergency management said he has personally encouraged the PUD to work with the Mt. Index Riversites community. 

In an email, he said, “PUD’s project and the landslide there have made for a perfect match to create a solution.”