I am pretty sure that the whole community is thankful to the heroic efforts of our post office personnel, specifically Eric Nitz, in getting the mail in and out of Elk City despite the slide that has hemmed us in. Isn’t there a saying that “Neither snow, nor sleet, nor … can keep them from their trusty rounds…” or something to that effect? Guess we should include landslides in that saying! Thank you, Eric and Teresa!
Kudos and a great big thanks also goes to John Enos and Rob Robinson for their untiring work in opening up an alternate route for us, Forest Road 1199 that goes from Elk Summit to Newsome and on out to Highway 14. They spent 40 hours in the last three days to make this happen. Thank, you, John and Rob!
Our county commissioners have been taking the lead in working with the Forest Service on this alternate route as well as with ITD on getting the road open. Thank you, commissioners!
The Forest Service hosted a meeting Monday afternoon. Terry Nevius, the district ranger, did an excellent job of informing us, fielding questions, asking for the community’s input, and dealing with some frustration by residents. The frustration dealt mostly with medical issues and doctor appointments. People were assured that any medical emergency would take top priority. Of course, there is LifeFlight for those medical emergencies that need immediate removal depending on weather. Thank you, Terry!
Because the alternate route is over a Forest Road that had not been maintained since the shutting down of logging, it has the potential to break down in areas and becoming a muddy bog hole. Therefore, the Idaho County Sheriff and the Forest Service have determined to have the road open for through traffic at specified times and days. As of this writing, and as Terry said, this is a fluid situation, the road will be open at 8 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for outbound traffic and 3 p.m. on those days for incoming traffic. These times will be reevaluated on Friday to determine if the wishes of the community members will be honored for the times of 6 a.m. for outbound traffic and 6 p.m. for inbound traffic.
To go out, folks need to meet at the laundromat by 6 a.m. to be escorted over the road by Hank, the facilities and fleet manager at Red River Ranger station. To come back in, folks need to meet at the Newsome turnout on Highway 14 by 6 p.m. to be escorted back in. Only high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles with chains, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles will be allowed on the road. Only local traffic, Elk City residents, will be allowed to traverse the road. Of course the exceptions will be the mail and UPS, but possibly propane and gas trucks if the road is in the condition to handle those heavy vehicles.
The Idaho County Sheriff’s office is an integral part of the planning and operation of these contingency plans. We appreciate their input and direction during this time. Thank you!
Apparently the state is putting out bids to clear the highway. Estimates of when the highway will be open vary from one to two months. They could possibly put in one-lane traffic at the bottom of the slide before that, but that will be contingent on safety issues of both workers and drivers.
Getting groceries and restaurant supplies and school lunches in were also discussed and we were assured that would be one of the priorities. I am sure many people have a decent supply of food here; after all, we are pretty remote. I know some people made fun of those who stocked up for disaster situations like Y2K but maybe it was not so crazy after all. FEMA has a website dedicated to disaster preparedness. Go to https://www.fema.gov/plan-prepare, http://www.ready.gov/are-you-ready-guide, or http://fema.tel/. There are also many other sites that deal with disaster preparedness.
A big thank you also to Avista for their work on getting electricity restored so quickly, within 40 hours of the disaster. Thank you!
We have had several calls, as I am sure many of you have had, about how folks are doing up here. One was from Eric Barger of the Tribune who thought we may have had a run on hotel rooms with all of the people stuck up here. I assured him that there were very few in that category. I also reassured him that people who live up here are pretty resourceful and self-sufficient and that, barring any medical emergency, we would get along fine. My husband told a caller in response to the statement that we were stuck up here, he said that “No, you are stuck out there!”
We also got another call from a truckers’ radio program asking about the road and any possible problems/issues. We assured him that there are routes out over the snow on snowmobiles that a few people have taken advantage of and again how self-sufficient we are up here.
Although there are some new people who have moved into town this last year, I can’t speak for them but there is always someone willing to help in emergencies.
It might be good to have a section of the bulletin board at the post office dedicated to a list of people who are of necessity, making a trip out and are willing to pick up things such as food, prescription meds, etc., for others.
E-mail me at email@example.com if I missed anyone who has helped or with any other news items.
Don’t forget the community Easter dinner is in the works for Easter Sunday, March 27, from 3-5 p.m. at the VFW Hall. The dinner will consist of ham, green beans, rolls, fruit salad which will be provided. Bring a dish to share. There will be no cost to partake of the wonderful food.
Dixie: The residents of Dixie are doing a fund-raiser for their park. They have shirts, hats and cool cups. Call Mike Wakefield at 842-2728 for information.
Meetings: Water and Sewer on March 1.
Anniversaries: Kim and Debbie Rendleman.
Birthdays: Jessica Montgomery, Jill Mann, Joshua Mann and William Stibal.