C all it the dry run for when the Cascadia earthquake rips.
Scores of drivers were lined up at gasoline stations throughout Brookings Tuesday after U.S. 101 was closed at Hooskenaden Slide after days of torrential rain caused the roadway to sink 12 feet and prevented delivery trucks of all sorts from making their rounds.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials have placed flaggers at Carpenterville Road to divert drivers between Brookings and Gold Beach, and Curry County commissioners planned to pass an emergency declaration Wednesday evening that enables the county to recoup costs associated with the event.
In town, however, people seemed more concerned that there was no milk and limited selections of other food at Fred Meyer, mail wasn’t being delivered and gasoline was running out.
“We’ve got 1,100 gallons left,” an employee at the Conoco at Alder and Chetco Avenue said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ll be out in two hours.”
Fred Meyer employees were turning away drivers who turned into their pump islands. An employee there said they ran out of all gasoline by 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. Five thousand gallons was slated to be delivered via California Wednesday, said Curry County Emergency Services Coordinator Jeremy Dumire.
Managers at the local store were unavailable Wednesday morning, and the division office did not immediately return calls.
Chevron in Harbor and the Shell station at the north end of Brookings were faring better, but unsure how long it would last, although those stations get their fuel from Medford and might not face the same challenges as others, Dumire said.
A manager at the Shell station said they had 3,000 gallons left at 4:45 Tuesday afternoon, and have more in bulk storage off-site. Drivers were lining up at the gas station at the Lucky 7 Casino in Smith River, as well.
Most gasoline retailers get their deliveries from Coos Bay and environs, and some are prohibited from driving over the old Highway 101 — Carpenterville Road. That narrow and graveled road had turned into a highway, residents along the route said, as vehicles detoured from U.S. 101 made their way between Brookings and Gold Beach.
“ODOT is placing restrictions on Carpenterville Road, with motor carrier enforcement set up on both ends,” Dumire said of the trucking industry’s law enforcement. Trucks under 40 feet in length and 60 feet overall — including fuel trucks — will be permitted through.
A snowstorm in Eugene caused scattered internet outages throughout the county, Dumire said.
“It’s just a nice little winter storm,” he said. “It came late this year.”
Some residents in the area have voiced their concern about how much Carpenterville Road can take, as rain continued through the week.
“I don’t know,” Dumire said. “ODOT’s looking at that; they’re being mindful of that. They’re going to do as much as they can to get commerce moving on 101.”
ODOT solicited for bids for work at the slide site Tuesday afternoon and crews were on site evaluating the damage Wednesday morning, he added. They won’t be able to do anything, however, until the earth stops moving.
The slide 12 miles north of Brookings initially dropped 4 inches on Monday after a foot of water fell over the county last weekend. It dropped to 3 feet below grade by the end of that day, and to 12 feet below grade by Tuesday afternoon.
As of Monday, Dumire said, the northbound lane’s white fog line was touching the fog line on the ocean-side of the road that remains, showing crews there how much the road was slipping toward the ocean.
“It’s moved considerably — and the whole thing is still moving,” he said. “Other sections have dropped. It’s still an active slide.”
The road has not only dropped, but has slid toward the ocean, according to Dumire.
For Dumire, it’s a learning experience, as well.
“Even standing out there, it’s hard to comprehend,” he said. “The thing of it is, you look at the buckling at the north end, compare it with the drop farther south — it looks like an earthquake hit it. It reminds you what an earthquake would look like here on the coast.”