Landslide forces closure of Dee Hwy. Tuesday

Mud oozes down a ravine on Dee Highway just north of Tucker Park; public works crews had to respond to the location on Tuesday night and again Monday morning as a small landslide recurred.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Mud oozes down a ravine on Dee Highway just north of Tucker Park; public works crews had to respond to the location on Tuesday night and again Monday morning as a small landslide recurred.

Another weather-related landslide occurred Tuesday evening outside of Hood River, this time on the Dee Highway, capping off a series of geologic events in the Columbia River Gorge that closed roads and snarled traffic for days.

Don Hamilton, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation, reported that a landslide occurred just after 5 p.m. Tuesday near milepost 5 on the Dee Highway, also known as Highway 281. Approximately 100 cubic yards of sediment, brush and other debris came down in the slide — including a couple trees, according to Hamilton —which resulted in the closure of both lanes of Highway 281 by ODOT.

Hamilton said he was not aware of any vehicles involved in the landslide and noted that it “wasn’t very big,” especially compared to a landslide that occurred about a mile west of Hood River on Interstate 84, which dropped more than 3,000 cubic yards of rock and other debris that required several days to clean up.

Southbound traffic was diverted onto the Odell Highway (Highway 282) just south of Tucker Bridge, while northbound traffic was turned around at Tucker Park near where the landslide occurred. ODOT used backhoes and dump trucks to cart the debris away and re-opened the highway just before 6:30 p.m. Hood River County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the incident.

Mud continued to ooze down the hill and over the highway during a rainy afternoon Wednesday, which prompted ODOT to return to the scene for more clean-up. The northbound lane of Highway 281 was closed from approximately 2:20 to 2:45 Wednesday afternoon for clean-up, according to ODOT reports.

Melting snow, rain, and the freeze/thaw cycle have all had a hand in loosening up rock faces in the Gorge and triggering the barrage of landslides seen on both sides of the Columbia River in the past week or so. Hamilton believed the weather was also most likely responsible for Tuesday’s landslide on the Dee Highway.

“As you know, we get landslides when we cut roads into steep terrain,” he said, “and with the rain, the snow, the wind — all are recipes for landslides.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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