Rain-soaked hillsides collapsing into Whidbey Island homes, coastal floods batter the opposite side

CLINTON, Wash. — A massive rain-triggered mudslide, which began days before Christmas, continued to move into waterfront homes in Clinton that had already been pummeled by high coastal floodwaters.

Eugene Elfrank watched the landslide tear through the back of his home daily since Dec. 21, when tons of heavy earth brought down trees, boulders, and steel culverts designed to control stormwater.

“Wow this is unbelievable,” Elfrank said. “It sounded like a train and it was a landslide coming down this unstable hillside behind me.”

The power of the first slide was captured on Elfrank’s surveillance cameras, showing a dark wave collapsing the hillside in less than 10 seconds. “I watched it come down and it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do except look at it.”

“This is the biggest landslide I’ve seen since I’ve lived here.”

Heavy mud sprayed neighboring homes like warning shots, prompting some to get out for safety.

Given Meteorologist Morgan Palmer’s forecast for more relentless heavy rain in the coming days, Elfrank considered the same action. “I don’t feel safe now,” he said. Might be time to wait this out at a hotel.”