Whidbey Island, Washington, landslide that took down at least one home, wiped out a road and put more than 30 homes in danger.

Landslide Takes Slice Out of Whidbey Island in Washington State

March 29, 2013

But for a dead flashlight battery, Bret Holmes would be buried in a pile of dirt at the base of a newly formed cliff.

Staying in the Whidbey Island home of his recently deceased father and stepmother while he readied it for sale, Holmes was awakened at about 4 a.m. on Thursday March 28 by an earthquake-like rumbling sound, he told The Seattle Times. He ventured outside with a flashlight in the pre-dawn hours and had just time to note the absence of about 20 trees, some of them 200 feet tall, before his flashlight battery died. He went inside for a new flashlight and came back to find that “where I had been standing was no longer there,” he told the newspaper. The landslide, 400 to 500 yards wide and descending 600 to 700 yards down toward the water, ate 75 feet of the backyard, which now ends in a sheer drop.

No one was injured or killed when a 1,000-foot-long piece of coastline slid off the island’s west flank in the community of Ledgewood and into Puget Sound. But it brought one home down with it, pushed another one 200 feet offshore and endangered at least 17 others on top of the cliff. It also destroyed 300 or 400 feet of the road that had led to the shoreline, Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin told The Seattle Times. Another 16 homes were evacuated below the cliff by boat, since they are no longer accessible by road, Hartin told the Associated Press

Now a dozen or more evacuees are uncertain of when they can return, since it could be weeks before the ground stops moving, said Terry Swanson, a lecturer for the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, to The Seattle Times

Swanson said that far from being due to climate change or a strong winter, the slide stems from a geological issue dating back 15,000 to 18,000 years, when the Vashon glacier started to advance and retreat. That action left a layer of rock the consistency of ground-up concrete, another of sand and a third of clay. Years of water accumulation eventually made it soft, and today landslides are common along the 35-mile-long, 60,000-population island, he explained.

Whidbey Island—or Tscha-kole-chy, by one American Indian name—was originally the home of the Skagit on the northern part of the island and Snohomish in the south. 



bill somerville's picture
bill somerville
Submitted by bill somerville on

of all the races of peoples in North America who clamor for recognition. The American Indian stands alone with the most legitimate claim, of being most mistreated. This was their land before the Mexicans, Blacks etc. were even on the radar, and yet they are and were the most unrepresented of any people in history. Often referred to as "savages" it makes one wonder who the real "savages" were when you see how these proud folks were treated. We owe them a debt we can never repay.

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Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on

Bill Somerville,

We KNOW who the real savages were: The washichu land stealers from Europe & subsequent governments after them. THAT is who the real savages are my friend.

I appreciate the good words you have had to say about we First Nation people. Once in awhile we come across a good person such as yourself who understands us a wee bit. Thank you for your kindness & the compassion in your words. We need MORE folks like you in this world who have seen through all the lies & have seen the light.

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Evelin's picture
Submitted by Evelin on

Hi Jennifer,I love your work! I have a 5 month old baby boy and a 3.5 year old little girl Do you offer mini seosnsis for two little ones?Thanks,Melanie