By Sally Gracie
Cheryl Wrangle and her two parakeets were rescued by firemen and police officers last Thursday (Aug. 22) sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight, after the storm. Cheryl’s rescue team led her over the deck and down a path into a gorge and to the highway.
Cheryl’s house sits on a ledge above Highway 153, a couple of miles north of the Carlton Store. The flood wiped out her driveway, then carried the small house below hers (occupied by Shaula Zink until a few weeks ago) across the highway.
Earlier Thursday evening, Cheryl had lost telephone service, but she still had power when she emailed friends that she was at home. She also packed a suitcase just in case. Despite the violent storm and heavy rains, Cheryl had planned to sleep at home in her house, which was not itself affected by the flash flood.
On Friday she returned to discover that she has lost her artesian well — and that she had forgotten to lock her door. Her car and truck were rescued over the weekend.
A “For Sale” sign — placed there with some sad irony by the owners — marks the property of Bob Elk and Janie Lewis across the highway from Cheryl’s. Along with Bob’s truck, Shaula’s former home has disappeared into a chasm created by the flood that ran between Bob’s shop and the house.
Bob and Janie’s escape was dicey. At one point, Bob says, he was struggling to keep afloat in the deluge. Heavy rain washed down earth, rocks and other debris from above Vintin Road, land that had burned during the earlier Carlton Complex fires. What didn’t go into the chasm was deposited in Bob’s yard. Two great, large trees still stand before the house, with rocks and boulders tumbled all around.
On Monday afternoon (Aug. 25), the dozens of friends who had come to their aid over the weekend had left. Buddy Thomas and Bob were salvaging tools from the shop — a hatchet, some clamps — and rinsing them of mud in the new stream that runs across the highway. A wooden stool with a leather seat cleaned up nicely.
According to Bob, state engineers were flummoxed today (Aug. 25) about what to do about the stretch of state Highway 153 that runs along the frontage of their property. They were able to determine that the canyon between the house and Bob’s shop is 64 feet deep, covers one acre, and stretches out 230 feet from its edge near the highway and towards the Methow River. John Breslin, who was helping Bob today, says the river’s course has also been changed by the rock and mudslides that began during Thursday’s rainstorms.
News snippets of fire and flood:
The fire camp on Twisp-Carlton Road is dwindling in size as is the parade of trucks coming and going on Twisp River Road to the Little Bridge Creek Fire. Crews and equipment, including private, local engines, have been demobilized or “de-mobed.”
After a work party of friends helped Maeyowa and Derosa rebuild fencing destroyed by the fires in Carlton, that fencing was washed away in the first round of flash floods.
Located on the side of the house opposite the big slide, Bob and Janie’s garden was not totally destroyed. Corn, dahlias and sunflowers stand erect. A friend picked a box of apricots from the orchard. Chickens that lost their coop are free-ranging despite a layer of mud wash.
Who can explain some of the things that we’ve done while we were pushing ourselves to act despite our fear? Some friends were safely settled on the west side after leaving their Libby Creek home during a Level 3 evacuation. The husband asked his wife, “Why did you rescue the colander?” “I like the shape of it,” she said. Now that the danger is over, people can laugh at themselves again.