Mudslide victim tells B-Town Blog ‘it was like a runaway locomotive’ + how to help


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This photo, taken from the water by South King Fire & Rescue, shows the devastation a powerful mudslide caused on Dec. 8. The white Jeep underwater belongs to Greg’s 74-year old Mom.

by Scott Schaefer
Founder/Publisher/Editor

Around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8, a large part of a hill slid down into waterfront homes on Strandring Lane in Burien, hitting one house so hard it rammed two parked cars all the way from the rear driveway through a garage and walls – with one still resting in Puget Sound – and knocked the home off its foundation.

On Monday (Dec. 21), I was able to talk with Greg (last name purposely omitted), a B-Town native who grew up in that home – which is now a total loss – and he generously shared his first-hand story of how he and his 74-year old Mom managed to get out alive.

Greg recently moved back into the waterfront home he grew up in to help his Mom care for his ailing Dad, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Sadly, Greg’s Dad passed away last March, leaving him to care for his Mom in the family home.

“2015 was already a rough year for our family, especially my Mom,” Greg said.

His Mom and Dad had been married for 46 years.

On Dec. 8 at around 10 p.m., Greg was watching TV and getting ready to take a shower, when he heard tree branches breaking and cracking behind the house.

“I had heard a smaller slide at Seahurst Park before, so this unusual sound caught my attention,” he said.

Greg muted the TV, then realized that the ground was now rumbling.

Then the house started shaking and moving. Violently.

“It became apparent very quickly that a slide was coming right into the house,” he said, “and when it hit, it sounded and felt like a runaway locomotive crashing through the forest.”

The huge slide rammed into the home and immediately knocked the power out. Tons of soil that was once a hill above hit the structure so hard that it caused a compression blast that blew all the inside doors shut.

“I had to force the doors open to struggle to get upstairs to find my Mom,” he said. “The house was crooked, walls were broken, it was totally dark, and mud was now flowing into and through it.”

His Mom called out to him, saying she thought it was an earthquake, but Greg knew exactly what was going on.

“My Mom was calling to me, and I eventually made it up and found her. There were gaps in the walls, the slate in the hallway was broken in half, and the sound of the slide continued. It was very loud.”

Once upstairs, Greg heard distant voices coming through the broken walls. It was his neighbors calling their names.

One neighbor, a firefighter/EMT, jumped into action and ran and grabbed a big ladder. He ran back down the beach to the damaged house because the road was blocked by the slide.

“My neighbor Sean is a hero,” Greg said. “He managed to bring a big ladder around broken water mains, with water gushing everywhere, downed power lines and a huge mudslide that was still moving.”

Greg’s neighbor eventually got the ladder onto the upper deck, and they managed to get his Mom out to safety.

Greg then went downstairs to retrieve his 100-pound dog, then ran through – carrying the big creature – through mud and broken glass out the front and onto the beach, with only the clothes on his back.

Their home now a total loss, with all their belongings trapped inside (the city won’t allow them back in yet), Greg’s truck buried under debris and his Mom’s Jeep still out being battered by waves in Puget Sound…these good folks have lost everything and could really use some help.

“We lost everything,” Greg told me. “It’s pretty surreal to realize that you don’t even have a toothbrush or socks anymore.”

According to a recent geotechnical report, the land around the slide area is likely to remain unstable throughout the coming months due to precipitation.

So…if you’re feeling the Christmas spirit, and want to help Greg and his Mom get back on their feet, please click below and donate online (we know Greg and his Mom will be very grateful…):

https://www.gofundme.com/landsliderelief

Here are more photos of the mudslide’s devastation, courtesy the City of Burien (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

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Pics from KG city cell 112

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Pics from KG city cell 104

Pics from KG city cell 088




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Comments

5 Responses to “Mudslide victim tells B-Town Blog ‘it was like a runaway locomotive’ + how to help”
  1. KateBB says:

    Thank you, B-Town Blog, for sharing the information on how to help.
    Healing thoughts and blessings of wishes fulfilled for Mom, Son and Doggie.

  2. Sandy S says:

    Thank you Scott for this interview. It has brought us to the scene in a way that makes it’s unfathomableness, real. My heart goes out to this man and his mother. I can truly understand that it will take months, perhaps years for them to recover and move on from this experience. To loose everything. How can any of us imagine it? I hope you will keep up with them on how they are doing.

  3. Sandy S says:

    Can anyone vouch for Heather Gibson Messersmith, the person who set up the GoFundMe account or Cloud Duran, the beneficiary? Sorry, but I take it seriously, when it say, “Only, give to people you know and trust.” and want to be sure Greg and his mother receive the money.

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