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Updated March 1, 1998
Lots of graphics following -- be patient if you are on a simple modem!

Well, the government finally did it: the whole county has been declared a Federal Disaster Area, so the FEMA folks are whizzing through. A few folks have commented that they are whizzing through a bit too quickly. For some people, all they have left now is a mortgage.

As of March. 1, Hwy. 84 is still 100% clear (with two single-lane conditions between Hwy 1 and Skyline). On Feb. 19, Hwy 84 re-opened between La Honda and Skyline. In one spot the road is single-lane, with mud piles on either side of you. To regulate traffic here, Caltrans has installed one-way traffic light control.

The situation in Cuesta is getting worse. Several houses are getting the red tag. What started as a three-inch speed bump in the road quickly grew over 10 days to a four-foot problem when I walked the area on Feb. 22. Click here for the pictures.

Pescadero and Loma Mar are reachable, and the sights of the boulders and big trees is no less than impressive.

Following are scenes along Highway 84, between La Honda and San Gregorio. On Monday night, Feb. 2nd, I discovered that a Porsche 944 will actually make it through THREE to FOUR inches of watery mud, branches, rocks and redwood duff -- as long as you keep the power on and treat it like heavy wet snow. I hated doing it, and it made the car look like hell, but hey, it's my only means of transportation...

This is what the rains of Monday night, Feb. 2nd, brought to my neighborhood. I am now able to drive home again, and let me tell ya, the first time I drove back into my driveway it felt weird. Still looking for new housing. Know of a place around Skyline, Skylonda, La Honda or San Gregorio for rent? Cabin, shack, whatever. Email me.

Click on any of the images below to see a double-sized version.

my bridge is missing

San Gregorio creek. Everything here was lush and green. I can no longer cross this creek to get home. I'm cut off to personal or emergency traffic access. The bridge is now 100 feet downriver, on the opposite bank, rightside up and turned 180 degrees from original orientation. The water reached a level about 10 to 15 feet above the bridge footings, or 20 to 25 feet above summer flow level. One footing is easily visible on the right. I'm glad I went to Apple Jack's Monday evening about 7pm after the power went out. Otherwise, my car would be stranded at my house, which is almost a half mile uphill beyond this point.

mud-buried Camaro

My neighbor was not so lucky. All their cars are a loss. This particular vehicle (a brand new Camaro) was originally parked 100 feet away from where you see it here. It floated backwards and was stacked into this small oak tree, which smashed the rear hatch open.

The mud inside this car is up to the steering wheel. It still has the dealer's new car plate on it, too.

Many cars and trucks and trailers were lost in this single storm, and most of them are still unaccounted for. They might be in the creek. Maybe even in the Pacific by now. By my count, at least a dozen cars and trucks, and a dozen or so trailers were consumed by the torrents of the night of Feb. 2 and the early morning hours of Feb. 3.

Hwy 84 Collapse

On Feb. 6th, the Eastbound lane of 84 has sunk a few feet into the ground, about a mile East of Rancho San Gregorio Bed & Breakfast.

On Feb. 9th, the sunken road area has grown (this photo) and there's a stop sign on either side which everyone ignores, except weekend tourist traffic, when you never know what to expect out of visiting drivers. Caltrans has moved a pile of new, raw asphalt in; I presume they will be working on this one soon. Maybe.

On Feb. 23, the asphalt pile is still there. The collapse is a lot deeper, but only a little bit wider. Hmmm.

On Mar. 1 it looks exactly the same, and the asphalt pile is still there.

The old Ken Kesey cabin

The Ken Kesey cabin, a bit of local lore from the 60s (and birthplace of The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test) was almost demolished by the storm. It was just inhabited by new owners last fall. There's a huge hole in the left side where a big tree rammed it, the walls are buckled outward from water pressure, and the grounds and footbridge were washed away. The horizontal trees in foreground were deposited there by the torrent. For some, this is no less than the loss of a Natural Treasure, and a piece of La Honda history.

submerged bridge

Remember that missing bridge of mine, the first photo on this page? Well, they are starting to put it back, and got it this far. It's in the creek, awaiting a crane. I was able to walk over this bridge (carefully, it was at a steep angle) on Feb. 16 to visit my home and check up on things, like making sure the hillside next to the house isn't doing anything strange. On Feb. 18 we got more rain, and then even more rain, and the bridge was quickly submerged. It also moved downriver a bit. Totally unsafe to foot passage.

As you see, this shot on Feb. 23 shows the bridge is now completely underwater. The bridge runs from lower left to upper right in the photo, and water is flowing from right to left. The small structure on the opposite bank used to be an aviary.

On Feb. 27 the bridge was put back in place with a big crane. I actually got to help out, as I put my Mechanical Engineering degree to work in the form of plain manual labor, with a shovel...

Click here for pictures of the giant logjam behind Apple Jack's, the San Gregorio beach debris pile (it's big), a neighbor's smashed cottage, and other local scenes.

Click here for pictures of the worsening Cuesta situation on Scenic Drive, taken Feb. 22nd. What started as a three-inch speed bump grew in 10 days to a four-foot dropoff. And it's still on the move.

If you're curious, I created this initial flood page while in the early stages of exile from my place. On Feb. 24, I am unfortunately still in exile from anything resembling a my life as it was before this disaster. Files were uploaded from the PowerMac at The Merry Prankster Cafe, where I conduct an internet workshop on Tuesday evenings. The photos were taken with an Apple QuickTake digital camera, massaged with PhotoShop, and the page was crafted with Adobe's HomePage and Apple's SimpleText.

Related links:

Visible Satellite View of the San Francisco Bay area.

Visible Satellite View of Northern California.

Doppler Radar image of the San Francisco Bay area; shows current precipitation intensities. Interesting to view during a storm (while the power is still on!)

You are flood survivor since Feb. 5, 1998,
when this page was created. Got boots?


Mud-slogging photography by

Bill Underwood

This page was created on 5/FEB/98
Updated 1/MARCH/98
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